A re-post from 5-years ago…

Just something to break the photo-a-day monotony

A Mandala

The mandala began with this next image ( growing in my water garden)

The transformation, in Photoshop, went as follows –

– Crop off the bottom to leave a square
– Duplicate this square 3 times

  • Rotated 1 copy 90 degrees CW
  • Rotated 1 copy 90 degrees CCW
  • Rotated 1 copy 180 degrees

– There are now 4 squares, one rotated to each of the 4 possible rotations

  • Set the blending mode for each to Overlay
  • Flatten the 4 layers to make a single image layer
  • Duplicate this new layer
  • Flip the new layer vertically
  • Set its blending mode to overlay

–  Flatten these two layers

– Adjust color & tonal contrast to taste
– Crop to a circle
– Fill the border with a color that suits
– and – it’s finished.

To summarize the above

The final image is a blended composite of all eight possible orientations of the original square image

This is my recipe for creating a photo mandala. When I first tried this several years ago, it seemed to be the natural (intuitive?) way to do it in Photoshop (at least for someone who doesn’t use PS much).

When writing this post I Googled to see what others did – and was surprised that no one else did it this way (that I found). The “standard” involved cutting a triangular wedge from the starting photo & repeatedly copying, pasting, and moving each new wedge to a position alongside the others

much like if you cut a pie into 12-15 slices, took them out of the pie plate and then put them all back together again. That approach results in something like this –

Whatever floats your boat. 😉

Here is my first mandala from May 2007 together with its starting image. Same technique as today’s.

Done my way, its difficult to imagine the final result. Every one is a surprise. I’ve found that simple starting images like this tree and the flower in the featured image work best – at least for my taste. Busier images end up looking – well, too busy, all a big jumble like this next one –

A HDR Seascape Sunrise

Shooting toward the rising sun creates exposure problems – unless you are prepared.

That’s the bad news. The good news? It’s the time of day for the most beautiful landscape images.


Good Morning World…

Be Prepared

Here’s a detailed (14 part) HDR Tutorial of mine. Read it, get up early, and make your own beautiful sunrise images.

HDR is a relatively new solution to this exposure problem. It was preceded by the graduated neutral density(GND) filter (a film photographer’s only option). Read the explanation of this approach in this post of mine (illustrated with a beautiful sunrise at Acadia National Park (with the Queen Mary, in the distance, approaching Bar Harbor, Maine).


My recommendation:

  • Shoot first using the GND filter, and then
  • Shoot a series of bracketed exposures for HDR (just in case)

I usually prefer the more natural-looking GND result

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Ethereal Effects: Shoot-Through

A shoot-through! Have you ever shot with something between the camera and subject? Sometimes even touching the front of the lens? Try it for interesting ethereal effects.

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From Out of the Mist…

Here’s the setup:

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If you’re interested, here’s one of several previous posts on shoot-throughs

For extra credit 😉 read this one (from a course I taught)

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Over the top Post-processing

Going overboard with post-processing can be educational. How else do you learn what the myriad of options do? It also leads to interesting images.

I’m cleaning up my photo data base (all 254,176 files as of today). In the process, I came across this image which jumped off the screen and caught my eye.

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Hemlock Springs Overlook, Shenandoah National Park

Early spring last year

Made with a point & shoot – weather & footing forced me to ditch the D800E & tripod

5-22-2011 7-31-40 AM

Basic post-process left-to-right:

  • As captured
  • B&W conversion using the Silver Efex Pro 2 Film Noir 1 preset; < 1 minute
  • Blend the B&W with the capture using Photoshop’s luminosity blend mode
  • Total processing time – less than 3 minutes
    • Afterwards used Color Efex Pro’s Lighten/Darken filter to remove the skyline and call more attention to the wildflower; the rest of the image is framing
    • Don’t recall how I did the cracked texture effect 😦
  • Get it right in the camera and most of your work is done
    • Certainly the most important part is

The most important part – Composition:

  • Wildflower anchors image and provides foreground interest & depth perspective
  • Mid-ground – A green triangle formed by the steep sloping mountain plus a tree in the form of a dark green ball framing the left side of the image. If you think of a scene as composed of design elements such as shapes, lines & textures – and not grass & trees in this case – your visual design, i.e. composition, becomes easier.
  • Misty woods in background for a third layer – depth, atmosphere, mood
  • Avoiding overlap between the flower & tree is important.

To avoid the common problem of including too much in your image, ask yourself – what attracted me to this scene? Then do all that you can to eliminate everything that doesn’t add to your initial vision and remember – if it doesn’t add then it detracts. You’re done when the next thing you remove from the scene in your viewfinder makes the composition worse – and not before.

  • For example, the flower and tree attracted me but I decided that I didn’t need the whole tree to tell the story. Also I cropped (in camera, nothing was added/removed in post) to leave just enough of the hillside and mist shrouded trees in the background to complete the story of where my flower and tree were.

  • Think hard about what is the best camera orientation. I  recommend always doing both vertical & horizontal – even if one doesn’t seem to make sense. This scene, to my eye, screamed vertical for the composition I wanted, but I’ll bet that most would have made it a landscape oriented shot (force of habit mostly).

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B&W via Infrared

Infrared photography – if you haven’t tried it, think about it. It’s a whole new way of seeing the world around you.

Made with an IR-converted Nikon D300. Post-processing via Silver Efex Pro.
Conversion by Life Pixel, highly regarded, personally recommended

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I like using fences to frame images
Silver Efex Pro Tutorial is here
Here’s a search archive with IR how-to posts I’ve written in the past

New Posts Regularly

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Lemons to Lemonade

When life gives you a lemon, make lemonade” applies to photo-ops

Stuck on this bridge for the better part of an hour. Decided to make good use of the time by making abstract images. Later, Silver Efex Pro aided the lemonade making process by adding some B&W sweetener.

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Hover mouse over image to see the captured version

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This image alteration is suitable for competition only if the rules state that anything-goes

Silver Efex Pro Tutorial is here

New Posts Regularly

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