Backyard photography can help us as we deal with Covid19 forced social distancing and the need to keep our minds occupied with something other than binge watching some streaming service. Many of you may not have a backyard or any yard at all, but you probably do have a window. Take your camera in hand and gaze into the yard or out of your apartment window and photograph something! If possible, go for a walk in your neighborhood for a little exercise and bring your camera along or just use your smartphone camera. Use your creativity and perhaps you may get lucky and photograph something interesting.
Being stuck at home can provide the opportunity to try photography techniques that are new to you, such as macro photography, using off camera flash, pet photography (if you have a handy animal), perhaps child photography is an option. Those of you living in urban areas might try some nighttime photography. The goal is to try something new and perhaps improve your photography skills. If nothing else remember “When you have lemons, make lemonade”!
Another opportunity that is available to you is that you can use these photos to improve your post-processing skills with Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop or other software programs. You can experiment with different techniques and tools.
I took my own advice a few days ago when my wife called me to see the two woodpeckers in the backyard. I am no wildlife photographer; I don’t even have a lens capable of photographing wildlife from a distance. The woodpeckers did get my attention as they furiously pecked away at a dead tree trunk on the ground, so I grabbed my camera. After firing off over 50 photos, my subjects decided to fly away. The photo below is the best one from this photo shoot.
Now, the next challenge will be finding more backyard or indoor photography opportunities to keep me occupied. Please come back and visit www.cestlavie4me.com to see if I have found anything interesting. Now get off the couch and grab your camera and shoot!
It has been a long time since my last post. Life has been busy, but not with photography. Recently, I was looking at some photos from a trip to Hampton, Virginia and 2 of them caught my eye. I decided to edit them to bring out the color of the sunset. In one I used the elliptical tool in Photoshop to make a selection that cropped out some distractions. Hopefully, I will start taking more photographs in 2020 and post more frequently. Here are the photos for your review.
Rusty Sky, Rusty Boats
Hampton Marina at Sunset
Great Falls Park is one of the U.S. National Park Service’s small parks in and around the Washington D.C metro area (https://www.nps.gov/grfa/index.htm). It also happens to be only about 10 miles from my home. Last week two of my granddaughters had a school holiday, so we decided to picnic at the park. The day turned out to be a beautiful, late autumn afternoon and food always tastes better at a picnic outdoors!
While the girls were playing, I took a short walk to one of the overlooks of the falls on the Potomac River. I had brought my camera, so I proceeded to take numerous photos of the falls. While processing the photos at home, I picked three of them to present in this blog post. Lately, I have become enamored with black and white photography, so I converted these to black and white by utilizing DxO Silver Efex Pro 2 after the initial processing in Adobe Lightroom. I prefer the black and white photos.
Color Image processed with Adobe Lightroom
Black and White version processed with DxO Silver Efex Pro 2 Preset #043 More Silver
Color Image Processed with Adobe Lightroom. In the bottom of the photo you can see a kayaker trying to row upstream. He never made it!
Black and White version processed with DxO Silver Efex Pro 2 Preset #023 Wet Rocks
The last image was shot at 1/125 of a second shutter speed to stop the action of the rapids. Again, in the bottom of the photo you can see another kayaker trying to row upstream, he also failed to do that! Color Image processed with Adobe Lightroom
Black and White version processed with DxO Silver Efex Pro 2 – no presets, just a few adjustments and a red color filter.
Please come back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com to go with me on my photographic journey to become a better photographer.
The other day, I drove to my granddaughter’s high school theatre performance. Usually, when I go to this type of event, I take my camera. This day was no exception. Since I would be taking a few photographs after the performance, I did not bring anything other than the camera and its holster. As it happened, that evening a thunderstorm was forecasted to occur during the play. After parking my car, I looked at the sky and could see some threatening clouds beginning to appear. I got creative and placed my camera on the holster as a support base, set the aperture at f18 and the ISO at 100. This gave me a somewhat long exposure, but not nearly a slow enough one. I took a few photos and proceeded to go to the play.
The next day, I imported the photos into Adobe Lightroom and viewed them. Unfortunately, none were very good, which was not a surprise. I decided to have a little fun with post-processing attempting to process one of the photos with only 10 adjustments or less. The software I used was Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop and DxO’s Silver Efex Pro 2. My goal was not to make all the versions look the same but to see what type of variety I would get with only a few adjustments. Here are the resulting photos processed with 10 or less adjustments to the original RAW file.
The first photo is the original file with only the camera calibration adjusted.
The next photo is a color version done in Adobe Lightroom and with 10 adjustments.
I then decided to convert the photo to Black & White versions with Lightroom, Photoshop and Silver Efex Pro 2. The photo below is the Lightroom conversion in less than 10 adjustments.
The adjusted color version was exported to Photoshop and in 10 adjustments I obtained the photo shown below.
The last version is the adjusted color version edited in Silver Efex Pro 2 with less than 10 adjustments.
None of these versions would win any awards but it was an interesting exercise in post-processing. Please come back and visit www.cestlavie4me.com to see where my photographic journey takes me next time.
Several weeks ago, my wife and I took a short drive to Annapolis, Maryland. She had learned of a “Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival being held that day. Kunta Kinte was the main character in Alex Haley’s Best-Selling novel “Roots”. I thought it might also be a good opportunity to try some street photography and it was!
Recently, I had read The Complete Guide to Black & White Digital Photography by Michael Freeman and attempted to use some of the techniques discussed in the book in processing these photos. Here are a few of my favorite photographs from our walk around the streets of Annapolis and the Kunta Kinte Festival. I used both Adobe Lightroom and DxO Silver Efex Pro 2 to process the photos. I enjoyed the opportunity to experiment with street photography and am looking forward to more of the same soon.
Please come back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com to continue following my photographic journey!
The Eastern Market area in Washington, DC is located within walking distance of the nation’s capitol. It was one of three public markets in Pierre L’Enfants original plans for the development of the District of Columbia. The market has undergone several reincarnations with the most recent one serving as a public market from 1873 to 2007 when it was closed. The area is now filled with retail shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, apartments, townhouses and condos. It is a wonderful example of gentrification at work!
Today, there are street markets open on weekends in the Spring and Summer. Recently, I spent and afternoon there taking photos and doing a little shopping for vintage vinyl jazz record albums! Here is one of the photos from that day. I converted it to monochrome with Adobe Lightroom and DxO Photolab Silver efex Pro software.
Please come back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com to see where my photography journey takes me next!
If you view any YouTube Videos about photography, you occasionally hear the term “working a photo” or taking many photos of the same subject. This is something that I have been trying to do recently as a method to hopefully improve as a photographer. A few days ago, I spent an evening in Washington, D.C. photographing the Washington Monument.
First, I decided to do my photography in the evening to employ the lighting from prior to sunset and through the blue hour. I checked the Photographer’s Ephemeris App for the sunset time and location. The plan was to have the monument backlit and hopefully a colorful sky behind it. This worked out well in helping me position where to set up my camera and tripod. Whether or not there would be a colorful sky was up to Mother Nature!
I was shooting from around 7:00pm until 9:15pm. I stayed in the same location the entire time to have nothing change but the lighting in the sky. The photos below were all processed differently, some in Adobe Lightroom, some in Adobe Photoshop and some in both. Only one photo was cropped. The evening was enjoyable both from a photography perspective and from a people watching perspective. The world is full of interesting characters and some tourists are at the top of the list! I hope you enjoy viewing these photos and perhaps you will go out and try something similar yourself.
Please come back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com to see where I go with my photography in the future.
Antietam Creek was the sight of a major battle during the War of the Rebellion (Civil War). It is also called the Battle of Sharpstown (Maryland). This battle occurred when the Confederate forces under General Robert E. Lee invaded Maryland which was not part of the Confederacy. The opposing army of Union forces was under the command of General George McClellan. Some experts consider the outcome a stalemate; however, the Union forces claimed it was their victory since it forced General Lee’s army out of northern territory. Please check this link for more details.
This post is not about the battle. It so happens that my family held a summer picnic this past Saturday at Devil’s Backbone County Park on Antietam Creek near the site of the battlefield.
I chose not to bring my DSLR camera since this was not a photography outing, but I did have my smartphone with me. The photos that I am sharing in this post were taken with my phone and some editing was done with Adobe Lightroom after I returned home. Although the photos are nice, you can easily see that they do not compare to the quality that would be produced with a good DSLR.
Taking photos is an enjoyable hobby with either a smartphone or my DSLR for me. I thought that some of you might enjoy seeing these photos. My smartphone is a Motorola Moto Z3 Play and is certainly not a high-end model, but the camera takes acceptable quality photos for viewing on a blog, Facebook, Instagram etc.
Antietam Creek and Dam
Antietam Creek Dam
Bridge over Antietam Creek
Please come back to www.cestlavie4me.com to see where my photography takes me in the future. Keep shooting even if it is with your smartphone! You might enjoy the results.
The other day I was at a farm with my daughter and we were picking peaches, blackberries, green beans and sunflowers. This is a farm that sells family memberships and they deliver fresh vegetables to your home once a week. Each week you can also visit the farm and pick some items for yourself.
I recently purchased a new smartphone, not one of the expensive ones, that is against my budget religion! The camera has taken some good photos of people, but I had not used it for anything else. This was my opportunity to see how well it would perform in taking a closeup photo, not a macro, just arm’s length type photos. I decided to use one of the sunflowers I had picked and to shoot it with the sun lighting it from several positions. After returning home I did some fun edits with Photoshop to practice some techniques. These are not fine art photos, just some fun photos that I decided to share with you. All these photos were edited to push some Photoshop features farther than I would normally go as you can plainly see.
The first photo is one taken with the sun directly behind it. You can just see the sun at the top of the photo.
The next photo is almost the same shot with the sun clearly visible at the top of the frame.
The following shot is front lit with the sun slightly to the photos right side.
This photo was taken with the sun facing the flower but it was held closer to the camera.
Now it was time to take a photo with the sun directly facing the flower or at least a close approximation of that position.
The last shot is just a selection of the sunflower that was directly facing the sun.
This was a fun exercise and I got to practice with Photoshop. This is probably the only way I will ever learn how to use this powerful tool. By the way, the smartphone does seem to have a pretty good camera considering it is not a high-end device.
It seems that we had a very long winter this past year. Perhaps because I am not a winter fan it just seemed long. In any case, as I walked around my neighborhood, I see the trees budding out, flowers beginning to bloom, and the birds and squirrels are all over the trees in my yard. It must be springtime!
The other day I happened to notice a beautiful tree in my neighborhood, and I decided to come back and photograph it. The location itself is not very picturesque, because, as I mentioned it is in a residential neighborhood with houses, cars and kids toys all over the place. This gave me the idea to take advantage of the opportunity and try to learn something about using Channels in Photoshop to create masks. This technique has proven to be very difficult for me to master. After looking at multiple YouTube videos I thought that was a chance to use channels when editing the photograph of this tree. As you can see in the photograph below the sky is devoid of color and there are many distractions behind and in front of the tree.
Upon completing making the selection for a mask in Photoshop, I could see that I had not done a very good job! So, I decided rather than to delete it what I would use the Paint feature in Photoshop to somewhat attempt to hide the poor editing. I also used the Picture Frame feature to see if that helped the image.
Another issue was the substitute sky photo that I was using to composite into this photo was not very good for this image. The perspective does not fit the image as you can clearly see. So now I have another project which is to make a folder full of different sky shots to use in similar situations in the future. I’m sure some of the readers of this blog have had to do this also.
This blog was started to allow me to track the progress of my journey as a photographer and not as a how-to blog by any stretch of imagination. First, I don’t have the skill to teach anybody anything about photography and second, I don’t think that it would be much fun for me to do so. In keeping with tracking my photographic skills progress below you’ll find the fully edited photo. You can judge for yourself what grade you might give it. Again, it was an opportunity for me to play with Photoshop and learn about using channels. I fully expect that I will be back viewing videos on YouTube to continue my education using this technique.
Please come back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com to see where my photographic journey takes me next. I will give you a hint my wife and I are traveling overseas in the next couple of weeks, so I expect there will be several photos that I will share with you when we return. Now go out and shoot something and please use your camera!