Oct 172012

Last Saturday, Lisa and I went up to Lewes, DE so I could attend a Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk event at Cape Henlopen State Park. I was VERY rusty with the camera and didn’t come away with anything that I was terribly happy with, but I still had a great time. I met and chatted with some really neat people. Anyway, I decided I’d spend a little time tonight and see if I could at least use some of the photos I took as a baseline for some post-processing techniques I hadn’t tried before. Below is the first (and maybe only) result. You’ll definitely want to click on this to see it larger.

Lewes, DE lighthouse from the beach at Point Comfort in Cape Henlopen State Park.

The first step in the post processing was to merge 3 different shots into the panorama. Photoshop just amazes me at how well it can do that. After that, it was time to experiment and attempt to breath some life into an otherwise rather mundane landscape.

I wanted to add some texture to the beach area to make it look gritty. Sand is gritty but it just wasn’t coming through in the photo. I had an image in my Lightroom library of some brown stucco so I dropped it in as a new layer, changed the blend mode to multiply, then reduced the opacity until there was a hint of the texture still showing through. Next, I fired up my favorite plug-in, Topaz Adjust 5. I pretty quickly settled on the Spicify preset. It was WAY too much at full strength but I reduced the opacity of the layer until I got to something I liked.

Moving back into Lightroom, I added a gradient over the sky and into the water and increased the saturation and shifted the white balance toward blue. Both of those adjustments were very small. Then I added another gradient over the beach area and used it to warm the white balance and to add some sharpening and contrast. Again, these were very small adjustments. Finally, I added a touch of global sharpening but used the masking slider to make sure the sky wasn’t affected and added a vignette. All that sharpening helped accentuate the texture I was trying to pull out.

In the end, it was a fun learning experience. I’m reasonably satisfied with the processing with one caveat. When I look at the image at 100% on my monitor, I think it has the right amount of texture. If I look at it re-sized to fit a smaller window, it starts to look too crunchy. I don’t know if that’s because it’s saved as a JPG for the web or if that’s just the nature of images that have a lot of detail being shrunk down.

 Posted by at 11:51 pm
Sep 102012

I finally made some time to do some shooting last week. My family went with me down to the boardwalk and Mary graciously volunteered to be my model. I was so rusty working my camera and felt that way again tonight while I was editing this photo. I’m sure it will all come back if I can just find time to shoot more.

 Posted by at 9:20 pm
Jul 252012

Since my last post, there has been a major change in my life. My family has moved from Knoxville, TN to Berlin, MD. Between spending time doing all the things it takes to move across the country and work needing quite a bit of my time, I haven’t been shooting at all.

That is, until tonight! I needed a break from work and from thinking about unpacking and organizing and getting my Knoxville house rented and so forth and decided on a whim to go out and shoot a panorama of Ocean City. To be honest, there was a good chance I wasn’t going to get anything because I picked the spot to shoot from by looking at my neighborhood on Google Maps. I’d never actually been to that area before and didn’t even know for sure that it was accessible. Fortunately, it was. I must also credit my wife for finding the location that the shot below comes from. I had setup at the first possible location and started shooting for fear of losing too much light. She wandered around a bit and told me about this location which I definitely agree is the better spot.

I don’t know if it comes across in the web version or not but I deliberately processed it towards a painterly effect. I think it might look nice as a print on canvas. I think this could also be a really nice spot to bring a model to as well.

Click for larger size

 Posted by at 11:37 pm
May 102012

Here are the last two shots from last weekend’s photo shoot with Rachael. For this setup, we’ve moved over to the studio’s low-key area and Larry, the studio owner, has thrown an orange gel over the light illuminating the background.

In the final shot below, I’ve backed out a little bit so I can include the suitcase we gave her as a prop and the bench she was sitting on. There was actually a lot of post processing done on this shot because I wanted to bring out a lot of the detail in the suitcase and bench if for no other reason that I really like detail and texture in my shots. However, I wanted to make sure the lighting on Rachael stayed soft and flattering.

All in all, I had a really fun time in the studio. I’m hoping to be able to rent the space on my own sometime soon and have a little more creative control and try some edgier lighting techniques. I’m going to build a shot list of photos that I can refer to for inspiration and a starting point.

 Posted by at 9:02 pm
May 092012

Here’s shot #3 from last weekend’s photo shoot with Rachael. Still on the white background but now we’ve got some yellow fabric hanging in front of it.

The color shifting on my monitors (which I’ve blogged about before) is driving me crazy. Neither of them will hold calibration for more than a few days (hours?). Depending on which monitor I move this photo to, it either looks fine or too warm. I have no idea how it looks to anyone else. At some point, I’m going to have to break down and get new monitors. I may have to do one a month or something like that, but I need to know that the colors are right, especially if I’m going to send something off to print.

 Posted by at 10:34 pm