Photographs & Paintings

Summary – Off to the mountains for a day-trip tomorrow. Forecast is rain. Hoping to see some photo-ops like those that led to today’s image – more painting-like than photo-like.

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Odd ball filters, gauze, Vaseline, almost anything

placed in front of your lens can produce

interesting results

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Sometimes almost painterly, in fact

(Used a wet windshield in this case)

Monet Made Me Do It

Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park

North entrance to Skyland looking south down the drive

Click to enlarge & see the “brush strokes”

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Technical – Nikon D300, Tokina 16-50 @50mm, 1/10 sec, f/5.6, EV=-2/3, ISO400, WB=Cloudy, center weighted metering, aperture priority, RAW capture, circular polarizer, hand-held, LiveView with manual focus

  • Taken through the windshield in a downpour (parked)
  • Hand held and braced on top of the steering wheel
  • I wanted the effect of the flowing water on the windshield visible, and the background soft and painterly – a relatively shallow DOF
  • f/5.6 at 50mm gives a DOF of only a few feet (4′ at a focus distance of 12′ which is about the distance to the tree framing the left side)
  • I used LiveView to see the image more clearly & used manual focus to get what I wanted

Composition

  • Trees trunks to frame left/right
  • Colorful leaves/branch to frame top
  • After zooming my 16-50 to 50, the final “Zoom” was moving the car forward/backward until  the tree framing was right
  • Give the eye a destination – the light area at the bend of the drive
  • Place the “destination” off-center; bulls eyes usually don’t work
  • The car was off the drive at a spot where I could move it safely – but anyone watching would surely have wondered ??

Post-process

1. Photoshop Elements/Adobe Camera RAW for RAW conversion

2. Tonal & color contrast adjustments in Color Efex Pro 4 using my custom designed recipe for basic image post processing

  Step-by-step detailed illustration in this post

3. Added a border using my saved CEP4 custom border recipe

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Combine techniques like this with camera motion and/or multiple exposures for some really painterly results

Or, if not painterly, then definitely non-photographic

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How to Make a Mandala

The other day, I was asked to do a post on

How to make a mandala

For Sarah (who asked & for my Buddhist buddy, Russ)

A Mandala

Click for description & discussion of mandala

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The above mandala began with this following image ( growing in my container water garden)

The transformation, in Photoshop, went as follows –

1. Crop off the bottom to leave a square
2. Duplicate this square 3 times by

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

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

  • Place all four on layers in Photoshop
  • Set the blending mode for each layer 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

4.  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

Easy

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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 didn’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. 😉

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

Done my way, it’s 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 –

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For old-timers at this blog –

Yes, you’ve seen this before

On 7/6/11

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Blog Improvements – Larger Images & Graphics

Last week I upgraded my WordPress blog service

I’ll be introducing new features this makes possible

Such as today’s illustration of larger images

The part of the upgrade bundle that permits this is its

Custom CSS package ( if CSS is Greek to you, no worry)

It will allow me to customize my blog’s “canned theme” which

Includes changing fonts, colors, and sizes of various elements such as page width & margins

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The maximum image width allowed by my default WordPress theme’s design is

Images – 450 pixels

GIF animations – 400 pixels

Due to the theme’s page width limit of 450

CSS allowed me to change the page width from 450 to 565

The result of the extra 115 pixels is demonstrated below

Much more to my liking (& your’s too, I hope)

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After changing to 565

D800E_130113_143011__DSC4354 cep4 sep2lum34

Old page width of 450

D800E_400wide

After changing to 565

barn560px

Old page width of 450

barn400px

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What did I learn today?

Besides how to make my blog images larger?

I’ve got a lot of CSS learning to do. 😉

Since CSS is essentially a programming language

Learning it should be not a big problem

Personal note –

Back in the 80’s I did free-lance programming

Even invited by Apple prior to the Mac intro

to the 1st Mac developer’s conference

I was intrigued by a new programming language

Wrote the first book on it (a college text)

390 pages in 4 months (circa 1985)

Without the benefit of a word processor

(& ignore my co-author; 1/2 chapter & quit)

It was also published in Russian

Rights bought by the Moscow press

Parlayed this into a part-time university teaching job

All of this programming stuff was a work-related hobby, but

Not anything directly to do with my full-time job

DMC-FZ28_130116_143855_P1040780

What did you learn new today?

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How did you make this image? #109

An in-camera Orton technique image

D800E_130113_143011__DSC4354 cep4 sep2lum34

Winter Jasmine

True to its name – in bloom now in January

A blossom is finger nail sized

Rain drops are pin-head sized

300 feet down the street

1-14-2013 2-55-05 PM

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Nikon D800E (using the Image Overlay option) on tripod

105 mm Nikkor 1:1 macro with 1.4 X teleconverter; circular polarizer

LiveView focus to nail the tiny water drops on the front center flower

5-second timer delay + mirror up to eliminate shake

Cropped from 4 x 6 to 4 x 5

Lost 6 MP, only 30 MP left 😉

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Six steps from capture to final

anigif

Capture vs Final

anigif01

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One of my Winter Jasmine favorites.

Among my very first multiple exposures

Made 10 years ago with my 2nd camera – a 5 MP Nikon P&S

I was ecstatic at the time – thought wow, wow, wow

Some of us are easily pleased 😉

31_meadowlark rep

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What You See vs. What the Camera Sees

This is a re-post (from January) in response to

This comment in yesterday’s post –

“Hello Im fairly new to photography and i try to use my camera everyday and study other photographs but when i dont get the shot to look similar to the one i i see on the net i get really discourage does that happen to anyone ?”

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The Photographer’s Eye….

Have you ever said –

“That’s not what I saw!”

When viewing a photo you took?

Do you know why?

You may lack The Photographer’s Eye

Her name is – Darling

Woodstock, Vermont

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Post-process

1. Processed RAW file in Capture NX2

2. Tonal & color contrast adjustments in Color Efex Pro 4 using my custom designed recipe for basic image post processing

  Step-by-step detailed illustration in this post

3. I made liberal use of Nik Control Points in step 2 to

a) – Emphasize “Darling” (applied Detail Extractor filter to just Darling)

b) – De-emphasize everything else (applied Tonal Contrast with all controls at minimum values to, in effect, “de-contrast” everything else – and reduced the saturation everywhere else, as well)

Because Darling was what caught my eye

The rest is context; I wanted this, but didn’t want it to distract by competing with the main subject

Overdone a little to make the point

Before – top

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The following 1-minute video describes visually (starting at about the 22 sec. point) why what you thought you saw isn’t what you captured in the camera –

Your brain focuses on what caught your eye and filters out everything else

But the camera sees all.

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My solution with the Darling image attempted to reduce the extraneous material problem in the post-processing (even though what I got was what I saw).

The best time to minimize the surprise is to examine the scene closely & carefully with your “eye” before pressing the shutter release.

You have to do this through your viewfinder

Give special attention to the edges & corners – especially if your viewfinder doesn’t give 100% coverage (many show only 90-95%)

Don’t fall for the classic telephone pole sticking out of a subject’s head “surprise” (this is an example of your brain filtering out everything except the subject)

Solutions, depending on the problem, include moving (up/down/left/right/closer/further), lens choice, and aperture (f/1.4 does wonders to replace distractions with a pleasing blur)

What you get may not be perfect or exactly what you want, but at least you won’t be surprised.

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How did you make this image? #108

Trust your eyes & vision

You might be pleasantly surprised

Even though the viewfinder view disappointed

Click! – Looks better larger & with a black background

On the Bank of Bull Run

Manassas National Battlefield Park

(as seen by a painter)

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50-135 2.8 lens; tripod, circular polarizer

Cloudy, misty afternoon

The view through the viewfinder appeared flat, dull & drab

Much like the capture shown below

To my eyes (rose-colored glasses?)

The scene looked much more alive

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1 – 2

3 – 4

1. Capture with RAW conversion (no adjustments)

2. Color Efex Pro 4 – Tonal & Color Contrast adjustments + Detail Extraction

3. Silver Efex Pro 2 – Equi-luminance conversion to brighten final result

4. Luminosity Blend of 2 & 3

Note – #1 was rotated 180 degrees prior to step 2. Wanted to disguise the fact that you’re viewing reflections in water – no particular reason, just trying to fool the eye.

With the exception of the sky (cooled the tone to make it bluer) I did not add or change colors – merely brought out the colors that were captured through the use of Color Efex Pro’s Color Contrast Range filter.

Click for Full Screen

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#4 is what a painter might have done

The bottom of the image is the reflection of the far bank

The remainder of the image, bottom to top, are trees and sky

The fact that this is a reflection lends a “painterly” look to the image

or, at least that’s how it looks to me

(while still wearing rose-colored glasses) 😉

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A Tale of Two Images

You don’t need Yosemite Valley (or similar)

To make striking eye-catching images

A setup on your table top &

A little eye-grabbing contrast might do the trick

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#1 – Stamp Collection

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#2 – Puzzling over Abby

At full-resolution the dictionary is readable

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Bought my 1st camera, 2 MP P&S in 2002

Upgraded to a 5 MP P&S a year later (used for these images)

Joined a camera club in 12/03

The competition committee, based on my lack of experience & equipment,

Put me in the novice class

For which I confirmed their judgement in my 1st month

By hearing “OUT” within seconds of each of my images hitting the display stand

Properly so – I hadn’t a clue about competition images 😉

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Fast forward four months to March 2004

By my fourth month I’d moved into 1st place

Says more about the others than me

Other novices were upset (they’d started in 9/03, 3 months sooner); poor babies 😉

Many complaints made to the competition committee

My response – Hey, move me to any category you please. I’m here to learn, not cry.

The committee refused to budge. Novice I remained.

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The March competition theme was “Table Top”

aka – Still Life (which had to be photographed on a table top)

Momma Knepley didn’t raise “no dummy”

I could imagine the others’ images

Fruits, vegetables & flowers galore

(and they didn’t disappoint)

If you want to win it helps to stand out from the crowd

Thus – my two “table tops”

At this point the judge unwittingly threw fuel on the fire

He intended to be complimentary when my 1st print went up

“Wow! This sure isn’t novice work.”

Grumble, grumble, grumble…. from the crowd

And when he announced the winners –

“No Contest! The hardest job for me is to decide which of these two to make 1st & which 2nd”

and – more Grumble, grumble, grumble…. from the crowd

Competitors claimed the Stamp image was Photoshopped

to get the bright red stamps against the stark B&W background

They couldn’t accept that

The stamps were actually red & the rest B&W

What a bunch of cry-babies

Afterwards there were 5-6 competitors waiting to talk to me in the parking lot

No, I’m absolutely not kidding

Hey, folks, what the hell’s your problem?

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Apart from the childish BS described above, I learned a valuable competition lesson –

If you have two strong images, think twice about entering them together instead of

Holding one back for another month

With both at the same time, you’re liable to be

Competing against yourself

This judge was unusual in that he awarded my images #1 & #2

Even though both obviously were made by the same person

based solely on their style (anonymous otherwise)

Quite often, the judges try to “spread the wealth” and would have picked only one of mine in this case

I don’t recall which was first; makes no difference

I’m guessing it was Stamps since Puzzling is a bit busy

Which would you pick?

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