Saturday, August 29, 2009

Series End

This is the last seashell that I shot on the driftwood for this series. I did shoot a few starfish and a seahorse but those shapes did not work well with the others.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Seashell Series

In January or February of 2008 the BAPC assignment was "Still life". I had never attempted to shoot a still life before and tried several different subjects, including pears and flowers but finally found some seashells and decided I really wanted to explore their shape and texture. I tried various backgrounds like sand and a bamboo placemat and when I found a piece of very dark driftwood I knew I had something I would like. I used my macro lens and ambient light from a window and no reflector to fill the left side because I wanted shadows to show the form and texture of the shells. Whenever possible, I tried to place each seashell on the part of the driftwood that echoed the shape or lines in the shell. I could not decide between several of the images and then thought a triptych would help convey what I was exploring and since all of the shells were not the exact same color I first converted each image to black and white and then added a sepia tone.

Nikon D200, 60mm macro lens at f9 and 1/15th, -.67 exposure compensation, ISO 100, cloudy whitebalance

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Mushroom Family

All the rain we have had lately has caused a crop of mushrooms to pop up in our yard. Of course, I had to photograph them. This grouping makes me laugh --- it looks exactly like a family to me, with Mom, Dad and little sister huddled together and big brother (the teenager) hanging out on his own and not wanting to be part of the group...I don't know if all of that comes across in the image, maybe you just had to be there.

Nikon D200, Lensbaby Composer with f4 ring and +10 close-up filter
Post processing: increased exposure and blacks in ACR, in CS3 a levels adjustment layer for global brightness, Punch Drunk by Kubota but masked off selective areas, sharpened with the highpass filter

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Fascinating World of Macro

I think this is another Zinnia although I could not find any on the flower sites that looked exactly like this one. I find macro and close-up images of flowers so amazing --- the symmetry, the miniature flowers inside a flower, the HAIRS on the edges of petals, the vibrant colors, the texture that does not appear to the naked eye. I am also usually surprised that I think I am photographing a flawless flower and when I look at my images on the computer I find spots or tiny bugs or dog fur that I did not know was there (yes, I have had my annual eye exam). So, this flower was cleaned up just a little bit, not much. And I combined two images taken with slightly different focusing to get as much sharp as I could. The flower is actually about 2 inches in diameter.

Nikon D200, 60mm macro lens with +2 close-up filter at f5 and 1/50th, ISO 100, cloudy whitebalance
Post processing: Increased exposure and blacks and the recovery slider in ACR, in CS3 I cloned out some spots, layered another image with a slightly sharper portion of the center, levels layer for global brightening, Punch Drunk action by Kubota masked to show in the center only, sharpened with the highpass filter in Softlight

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Black and white

Although I like the earth tones of yesterday's succulent, I also like the way a monotone version emphasizes the form and shape of the leaves.
Post processing: Increased exposure and blacks in ACR, in Photoshop cloned out spots, levels for global brightness, ran Kubota's Black and White Full Moon and finally Kubota Ancient but lowered the opacity to 2o%.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Time to get back to the Lensbaby

I still struggle with that lens, to get something sharply in focus but enough distortion and blur around the edges to make it interesting. It helps when the subject doesn't move around a lot. This succulent was shot with the latest Composer Lensbaby but I am not sure it is any easier than my older 3G. I think I used a +4 macro attachment.... I was switching back and forth between my Lensbaby with and without macro filters, and my 60mm macro lens with and without close-up filters and didn't take notes.

Nikon D200, Lensbaby Composer with f4 aperture ring and +4 macro filter, at 1/640th, ISO 100, cloudy whitebalance

Post processing: increased exposure and blacks in ACR, in Photoshop cloned away spots, ran Punch Drunk action from Kubota, the high pass filter in Overlay mode.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kuchengarten, Amsterdam

A short while after we got off the plane in Amsterdam, our friend Scott took us to the world-famous Kuchengarten to see the incredible flower displays. It was truly a sight to behold, especially in the spring. What is so amazing about these images is that the place was crawling with hundreds of tourists yet I was able to compose quite a few shots without any people present, and no, I did not Photoshop them out. Once again, the jpg quality that I used does not show a lot of the detail in the images, but I think the vibrant colors do come across as true to life. It was almost too much after even a short time there!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Road to the Alps

This is another of my favorite images from our 2007 trip to Germany. Unfortunately it was taken in the middle of the day but I was just glad to be out shooting. This was such a beautiful field with fences criss-crossing it and a few trees scattered around. As I was composing my shots a person came riding down the road on a bicycle toward us from around the curve. I wish now that I had not waited for her to pass but had included her in some frames...I don't know what I was thinking! I guess she surprised me and I was not quick enough to get her in a good area of the composition. We felt like we were in The Sound of Music and Julie Andrews would appear singing at any moment, just not on a bike.

Nikon D70, 18 -70mm 3.5 - 4.5 lens at f22, and 1/125th, ISO 200, auto whitebalance, jpg

Friday, August 14, 2009

Jessica, one year ago

Last year at this time Larry, Mike and I met Jessica at Helen's Garden in League City to take her Quinceanera portrait. Larry brought a couple of speedlights and umbrellas, and one of us brought a ladder. I was still trying to learn off camera flash and portraiture and Jessica needed a portrait to commemorate her coming of age ceremony in the Mexican American culture, which happens when a girl turns 15 so it was a good opportunity for all of us. She was a trooper in the August heat and let us shoot for over an hour all around the garden. Today she turns 16.
Nikon D200, 60mm lens at 2.8 and 1/320th, 2 speedlights shot through umbrellas in clamshell set up, ISO 200, shade whitebalance

Sunday, August 9, 2009

What a difference a blending mode makes

I had the most wonderful shoot a couple of months ago with this adorable baby girl. I had brought a large white backdrop and didn't really know how to incorporate other backgrounds I brought, or how to effectively use the baby's home environment so ended up using the stark white in most of my images, thinking I could use some layers in Photoshop to add color and pattern...but it never looked right. I was able to add layers and change their opacity and hue but had so much trouble getting it to look good around her wispy hair and the fuzzy yarn of the blanket. Then I read Steve's post about changing the blending mode to "multiply" and when I did that the difference was incredible --- her little wispy hair reappeared, just like magic! It just reinforced to me how much I still have to learn about editing images. Thanks Steve!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fussein Lake, Germany

Before I started learning about how to take good landscape images, I always thought a bright blue sky was that I am a little farther down the road on my photographic journey I know that clouds make a sky much more interesting. I could take a stab at adding them with some cloud brushes in Photoshop, which thanks to my friend and mentor I do have, but decided to be real for this post! I was so happy to finally get a chance to do some shooting on our April 2007 trip to Germany after several days of flying down the Autobahn at rather high speeds. Our American friend who married a German girl and lives there now took us to Fussein to visit a castle and on the way we passed this idyllic scene. I was still shooting in jpg then.

Camera: Nikon D70, 18 - 70mm lens at f22, 1/60th, ISO 200, in jpg
Post processing: Levels adjustment layer to set black and white points, Curves for Contrast, a Selective Color layer to add cyan but reduced the opacity, Touch of light on trees, Boost action by Pioneer Woman at 40% opacity, sharpened with the High Pass filter.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Another good learning experience

I had the opportunity to photograph another child, this time 3 year old "J". I learned more about how I need to approach photographing kids who do not know me and what I should discuss with the parents before-hand. She is a very cute little girl who has strong opinions about what she wants to do or, as was usually the case this day, not do! We were having a great time towards the end but the environment was not the best for how I like to shoot, so I may have more opportunities to try again in other places. It was a great learning experience and I think this is my favorite shot from the day, even if she is rather serious. I know exactly how she feels to have that black box pointed right at you!

Nikon D200, 50mm lens at f1.8

Post processing: increased exposure and blacks in ACR, in PS cloned away umbrella strap, lightened undereye circles with the clone tool in lighten mode at low opacity, Touch of Light action on her face, Bring on the Eyes action, Curves layer in luminosity to brighten child only, CreamSickle action at 25% opacity, sharpened with the highpass filter

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sonny and Cher

"I got you babe" is what these two must be singing. It was just about a year ago I photographed these hatchlings and this is one image I had not posted. The nest remains in my hibiscus bush and I saw a female cardinal actually in it not long ago, but she did not lay any eggs and I have not seen her return.
Post processing: Used the whitebalance tool in ACR and increased blacks, in Photoshop cloned away hot spots on branches, hue/sat layer to reduce reds, Touch of Light on birds, Touch of Dark on nest, Levels for global brightness, sharpened with the Edge, Edge Downer by Kubota to darken edges. I did not increase saturation but can see the green leaves look unnatural, the morning sun was shining through them so that is the only cause I can think of.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Blue Bayou 2

Looking back in my file from this day, this shot was 20 frames before the one I posted yesterday so the heron posed for us for quite a while. This time I processed it differently, and of course left the motion blur as the heron landed.

same camera settings as yesterday
Post processing: increased exposure, blacks and vibrance in ACR, in Photoshop added a Curves layer for contrast, sharpened with the Edge, then ran Fresh and Colorful action by the Pioneer Woman and Dragon Old World Color by Kubota

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Blue Bayou

My husband thinks I should post some of my older images, so this one is from November 2007. But truthfully, I owe this shot to Steve. He is the one who got me out before dawn, along Armand Bayou at Bay Area Park this time, and I saw and experienced nature like I never had while growing up in this area. This morning at first not much was happening, but the fog was interesting and the sunrise was too since I usually am not up that early to see it. And then birds started swooping around, small ones at first. I had my camera on a cheap Velbon tripod at the end of the boardwalk and was composing a shot of the fog and trees and reflections when a Great Blue Heron flew into the frame and landed on a stump in a perfect spot in the composition. He even stayed long enough for me to get several shots. Not until I processed the image did I see the bird on the bare tree branch in the background. It was a great experience and surely contributed to my enjoying nature photography so much, so thank you Steve.

Nikon D200, 70 - 300 mm f4 -5.6 lens at f10 and .4 shutterspeed, +1 exposure compensation, ISO 100, fine weather whitebalance.
Post processing: (this was done when I was just learning Photoshop!) Duplicated the background layer and cloned blur from around the heron, Curves for contrast, levels for global brightening, levels for black and white points, selective color layers to reduce blue hue, no record of sharpening at all.