Apr 232011

I found some time to go out shooting again this afternoon and came up with a couple of fun shots for the assignment. I’m fairly certain either one of these shots would knock out the no parking signs shot from a couple of days ago.

I came up on a rather large poster hanging inside the window of one of the businesses on Gay Street. It popped up in my head that if I could get a slow enough shutter speed, I could get a rotational blur effect. The window was still in full sun so I had to drop my ISO down to its lowest level and also ended up having to put my circular polarizer on to lower the shutter speed even further. After taking several shots, I knew I liked the concept but I realized I had a slight problem. If I got a really nice, creamy rotational blur, you couldn’t really see enough detail to really understand what it was you were looking at. If I reduced the amount of rotation to make the poster understandable, I lost the “cool factor.” I decided I’d use a shot that had a lot of rotational blur and then take a sharp shot of the poster and composite it into the picture with Photoshop. Once I got home, I decided to only composite in the girl and I reduced the opacity of the layer she was on to help her blend into the background just a touch. Other than that, it was pretty standard post processing. I upped the black levels as much as possible to deepen the red and also reduced the luminosity on the red channel just a bit. No additional sharpening at all except for the standard Lightroom 3 export sharpening.

This was the second photo op I came across. I loved the sign as I approached but I’m most happy I didn’t even start shooting until I walked to the other side and checked framing opportunities back in the direction I had come from. The wall of the building I had already passed had these black and white drawings painted onto the side and the one in the middle, as you can see, was the aperture of a camera! How perfect is that? Quite a bit of clarity was added to this as well as sharpening in an attempt to bring out the texture of the rust and other details on the sign. I also had to go into Photoshop to remove a power cable that ran from the upper right of the frame, directly through the center of the frame between the sign and the background. I also chose to remove a small clump of leaves in the upper left because they were still catching some of the setting sun and were much brighter than anything else in the background. Back in Lightroom, I added a vignette and altered the shape so that it was as close to the shape of the sign as I could get it.

So far, both Lisa and Katy have preferred the poster shot over the parking lot sign. I’m inclined to agree although I’m not sure if a composite image is going to be considered acceptable for this assignment. I’m going to send both (we are only supposed to send one image) and tell him my pick is the poster, but if he doesn’t want to allow composites, then he should use the parking lot shot instead.

Apr 222011

As I mentioned in the previous post, the current assignment for my creative photography class was to take a creative shot of a man made sign. In this post, I’m going to talk about the shot that is currently selected to be the one I will send unless I get another chance to go out shooting before Sunday evening.

This was shot in front of Calhoun’s at Volunteer Landing. I thought it was kind of funny how they had these three no parking signs so close to each other. I focused on the closest one to me and then worked with both the zoom and my shooting angle to get a diagonal line of signs shrinking into the distance. I also shot at various apertures so I could pick how sharp I wanted the furthest sign. I wanted it to be recognizable, but not sharp.

The toughest decision for me when processing this image was to desaturate all of the color channels except red. I see this effect used a lot in photo communities so I feel like it’s been done to death. However, I really thought it was needed in this situation because it was a bright, sunny day and the trees were green and yellow and those flags in the background where orange and white and there was just a LOT going on in this picture. I felt like only leaving the red channel was the best way to not lose the signs further back into the background AND to amplify the message the restaurant was trying to convey by putting so many signs that close together. “Look people, DON’T PARK HERE!”

Oh, there’s also a touch of vignetting around the edges, but nothing heavy handed. I used it mainly to bring down the sky peaking through the tree in the upper left just a little bit.

Apr 222011

The first assignment for my creative photography class is to take a creative shot of a man made sign. I had an opportunity to go out last Tuesday evening and shoot around Volunteer Landing while I was waiting for Lisa. This picture below is one of the first I took. On my way home, I thought that was going to be THE shot, but I’m not 100% thrilled with it. I’ll explain why below the photo.

First, let me say what I like about this image. The number one thing I like about it is that it’s not a typical sign. I was trying to think outside the box about what most people think of when they think of “man made sign.” I also like the dramatic low angle and the fact you can see the reflection of the old Baptist Hospital in the top part of the seal. (Incidentally, I guess you’d call that a seal. Is there a more appropriate term for that?) Anyway, I also love the texture and color of the concrete. I always try to amplify the texture any chance I get.

Here’s what I don’t like about it. First, the river bank below the hospital is just BLEH! For me, it borderlines on eye sore. Second, there’s something that I can’t quite figure out that I don’t like about how the hospital itself is lit. I tried working with it quite a bit and it’s better in this final version, but there’s still something I don’t like about it. Third, the green bridge on the left side of the frame bothers me a little. Fourth, and this is a bit nit-picky, but while the hospital and the top of the seal are pretty much dead center in the frame, the nearest point is shifted a little camera left. I was literally laying on my side trying to frame this shot and apparently I was just a touch too far to the right but didn’t see it at the time. I’m just far off center enough for it to bug me every time I look at it. In the end, the things I didn’t like about the image outweighed what I liked so I’m not submitting it for next Monday’s class.

My next post will be of the photo from this trip that is the current top choice. If I get out any tomorrow, I’ll take my camera and see if I can come up with something better.

Jul 132010

One of the photography websites I belong to is nikonians.org. They have an ENORMOUS number of discussion forums. If you shoot with Nikon cameras, go check them out and you’ll see why it is perfectly appropriate for me to put enormous in all caps in that previous sentence. Anyway, one of the forums is used for monthly assignments. There’s a different theme every month. For July, the theme is grasses. There have been several very nice images posted already and here’s the one I shot on Sunday for it.

Tall Grass

Tall Grass in Summer


  • Nikon D90
  • Nikkor 55-200 f/4-5.6 @ 200mm
  • ISO 200
  • F/8 @ 1/160
  • RAW capture processed in Lightroom 3

This particular piece of grass was growing in a field at the edge of the road at the end of a cul-de-sac in my neighborhood. It was late afternoon and a rather large tree growing on the side of the field was already casting a large shadow across most of the field and freshly mowed yard of the lot next to the field. Fortunately, this piece of grass was still in full sunlight and was leaning out far enough that I could easily position my camera to get the mowed yard behind it and isolate from the rest of the grass. I zoomed all the way into 200mm and got close enough to fill the frame.

Lightroom adjustments involved pumping up the black level some which did 90% of the work making the background look as nice as it does. Quite a bit of clarity and I selectively darkened the colors of the seeds using HSL Luminance adjustments just a bit. Add a touch of sharpening and noise reduction and vignetting and we’re done.