Blog Posts

Urban Photography

I have found that taking photographs of people in their urban surroundings is very enjoyable for me. In a previous blogpost I discussed what types of photographs I wanted to take and decided that I like to point the camera at anything I enjoy! Is that something that appeals to you or do you tend to concentrate on one specific type of subject matter? Have you considered trying new subjects and challenges? With summer approaching and good weather to be found throughout the northern hemisphere, now is a great time to get out and explore taking photos of different subjects and situations.

Recently, I had the opportunity to take some photos at both a local street festival and in the historic city of Annapolis, Maryland. I consider these to be urban photography although some of you may prefer to call it street photography. Since these are my photos I have decided to use the term urban photography. My hope is to display people interacting with one another in an urban setting or just being a critical element of an urban scene.

The first several photos were captured at the OneLoudoun Festival in Ashburn, Virginia. Ashburn is a suburb in the greater Washington DC metro area and OneLoudoun is a real estate development that is attempting to mimic a downtown area in a city. If you visit, then you can decide for yourself if this idea is successful. The picture below is entitled Conversation. I caught sight of the couple in conversation in the midst of a crowd of people. I processed this photo to highlight them and at the same time to deemphasize the rest of the scene. I wanted the effect to be subtle and my style seems to gravitate to lightly post processed photos.  Conversation

The next picture from the festival featured a dog. Usually, I am not the person who has much interest in photographing animals, but this scene caught my attention with the dog, his owner and the costumed person in the background. Since the dog was a black and white breed and his owner was wearing black tights, a white top and boots with white fur trim I decided to process this as a monochrome image. I did use a slight tint just to make it look a little different. It's about me!

In America, we have a provision in our Constitution that permits citizens to own firearms. The actual text of that amendment is as follows A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”. Depending where in the world you live, this might be a concept that you disagree with. Many individual states also have laws that allow for citizens to carry firearms on their person. A weapons permit is required to do this. The Commonwealth of Virginia has laws to allow the carrying of firearms and if you are interested click on this link http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title18.2/chapter7/section18.2-308.01/

The rationale for this discussion is found in the next photograph from the festival. This scene was interesting because the two blue balloons are harmless and photogenic. If you look closely to the left of the woman with the balloons you will see a man wearing a red headscarf. Note that on his hip is a handgun. I thought the juxtaposition of the innocent balloons in a scene with a handgun was a great opportunity for a photograph. I tilted the image in post for a little extra effect. Gun and Blue Balloons

Now the last picture from the festival was of a family behind the stage where a band was playing to the crowd. I watched the dad take several pictures of the family and I took candid pictures of them at the same time. The one below is entitled Why me? And I think you can surmise the reason for the title. Why me?

Annapolis is a very historic city here in America. It is the capital of the State of Maryland and it was also the first capitol of the United States prior to Washington DC. It is also the home to the U.S. Naval Academy. The first picture was taken on Main Street near the harbor. This area is a very tourist oriented neighborhood filled with shops, restaurants and bars. I noticed several Naval Academy Cadets standing outside of a restaurant and thought the scene was interesting due to the four people and dog (again an animal) in the foreground. Their facial (not the dog!) expressions are all quite different and tell various stories. Feel free to guess what you think those stories might be. Naval Academy Cadets

The last photo is of a traffic control officer. It looks like his hand signals are giving contradictory instructions. Actually he is signally to pedestrians on both curbs that they can walk. Just as I snapped this photo a gust of wind blew in from behind me and blew my hat across the street behind the officer. He was kind enough to run after it and grab it before a car had the great opportunity to run over it! Traffic Control

Thanks for visiting C’est La Vie Photography Blog and come back to see another post in the not too distant future! Feel free to leave a comment.

 

Blog Posts

Working a Photo

In the last few months I have attended a couple of presentations by gifted photographers who discussed the concept of working a composition. By this, you should try and take a photograph of a particular subject from different perspectives, different aperture settings, different focal lengths, and any other techniques you can use to try and create a picture that is unique. The emphasis for you is on doing this in-camera and not just relying on Photoshop or some other editing program to manipulate the pixels.

 I must admit that this technique is one that I have not done a very good job with in the past. As I look back it seems that I probably spent too little time on any given shot. This is perhaps because I didn’t think through quite clearly what I wanted to do before I started shooting or in some instances I was impatient to move on to the next photograph. In any event, this is a problem in my photography that I plan to correct immediately.

 Recently, I visited New York City with the intention of enjoying a day or two in the city and not necessarily concentrating on photography. Fortunately, I did bring my camera with me just in case I changed my mind. As it turns out, I did use my camera much more than I had originally planned. New York is a fantastic city for photography, in particular, for urban street scene photography. I think I will use some of those photographs for my next blog post on the topic of street photography, but for now let’s stay on the topic at hand which is working a composition.

 When I came up with this idea for the blog, I realized that I did not have very many examples of working a particular composition to get a perspective, view or just a composition that was somewhat unique. I guess that points out what a poor job I have been doing in the past with working my compositions. While in the financial district I did manage to take a few different photographs of the icon of the Financial District, “the bull of Wall Street” sculpture. I will use those photos to somewhat highlight the idea of working a composition; although, admittedly, a very poor example of that technique.

 The first photograph that I took was from the front of the bull and it is shown below in color. As it would happen, many people were walking by and just as I snapped the shutter the woman on the right came into the frame and I memorialized her as a blur. I wasn’t originally planning to show this photograph to anyone because of that; but, since we’re talking about many photos of the same subject I thought I would include it as an example. Not exactly good in-camera examples, but I told you I had not done a good job of this in the past!

Color and Uncropped first photo taken.

First photo taken.

The next shot was a close up but it was also marred by someone walking into the photo as I pressed the shutter. So I cropped it to eliminate the blurred image of that person.

Closeup with blurred image.

Close up with blurred image.

This was the resulting image.

Cropped to remove blurred person.

Cropped to remove blurred person.

Ok, I took another photo and again a person walked into the frame. I needed an assistant to watch for me or I should have been more attentive to what was nearby before firing the shutter!

Black & White Conversion

Black & White Conversion

Cropped to remove blur.

Cropped to remove blur.

By the way, did you note the position of the woman at the rear of the bull! I wondered what had her so fascinated, I managed to walk around to the bull’s rear end and as you can expect I saw a substantially different view! This view by itself is fun to look at and certainly illustrates taking a photograph from a different perspective.

Another view from a different perspective.

Another view from a different perspective.

As long as I was having fun, I decided to take this photo into Photoshop and using the Out of Bounds effect created a fun photo of the bull crashing into the New York Stock Exchange. Like a lot of people, I have lost money in the market and this gave me some satisfaction as a visual way of getting back at Wall Street!

Market Crash!

Market Crash!

 As I look at these photos I wonder how much better they could have been with a little more time invested in working the composition. Perhaps a few photos from a ground level perspective would have been good. If I had arrived early in the day before the crowds arrived, then I would have had fewer distractions and a better environment to concentrate on the various compositions. Maybe a photo taken from a few inches from the bull’s nose with a wide angle lens would have been a winner.

 Hopefully from here on out I will concentrate on working a composition in greater detail. The other thing that I’ve heard multiple times, especially in relationship to street photography, is trying to convey a story in my photograph. In the next blog post on the topic of street photography, I will share some photos that attempt to tell a story. I will leave it to you to judge whether or not I have accomplished that mission and to what degree. For those of you who already are doing a good job of working your compositions you didn’t need to read this, but for those like myself who have not been doing this, I hope this gives you some ideas that you can use in your photography.

 Keep shooting!

 

Blog Posts

Adobe Fun!

In prior blogs I have talked about my attempt to learn Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop Elements. Continuing to develop my technical skill with these great products has been a challenge but there has been progress. Unfortunately, I have a long way to go. Maybe some of you have experienced similar issues in your journey through these photo editing programs.

First let’s talk about Lightroom. This is the digital darkroom for your images. I have invested a great deal of time viewing training videos on YouTube.com. It is amazing how much free training is available to you and how good the training actually is. My frustrations; however, is that beyond describing what the controls do and how that particular photographer uses them to make fantastic photos, there is not a lot of depth in explaining what setting to use! The frequent response is “depends on what you like”. I guess in the world of art this is something I will have to get used to it, but from my more precise business background I tend to like absolutes and answers that are clear-cut. Another area of confusion for me is “sharpness”. I have tried many different levels of sharpening of photographs and sometimes it’s hard to see any real improvement. It seems that I degrade the photos more than improve them. So lately I have started not to bother with sharpening at all and just use the preset level of 25 that Lightroom provides.

I must admit that when I look at some of my photos from a year ago and compare them to newly edited photos, I like what I’m seeing. Two of the tools that I’m beginning to have a greater appreciation for are the Tone Curve and the HSL sliders. These tools have helped improve quite a few photos that otherwise were a little dull and lacking. I suspect many of you have had similar awakenings with using these tools. One of the newer features of Lightroom 6 is the ability to create panoramas. I recently visited New York City on a rather chilly, hazy winter day. I went across the Hudson River to Liberty Island State Park and took a series of photos of Manhattan Island and then used this new feature to create the panorama that you see below.

Photoshop Elements version 14 is Adobe’s latest enhancement to their popular hobbyist version of Photoshop. A trial version is available and I took advantage of that because I wasn’t sure there were enough new features to make a purchase worthwhile. One of the new additions is Dehaze. This feature turned out to be quite helpful in several photos that I recently edited. It is not perfect, but it did make an improvement in photos by removing what appears to be haze and leaving a much clearer photograph.

Continuing with the theme of struggling has been my utilizing some of the tools in Photoshop Elements such as the Selection and Clone Stamp tools. I looked at many videos and then tried to duplicate what I just learned and in some instances it was difficult to get the same results. As it turned out the problems I was experiencing had nothing to do with my learning ability or the software itself. One of the issues is I have developed an irritating twitch in my right hand. Since I am right-handed this creates problems in editing photos. Research for solutions led me to larger input devices such as trackballs and a larger mouse. I should also mention that I have been using a Wacom pen & tablet along with a mouse. I seem to have compensated for the twitch by purchasing a beanbag type wrist support along with a better surface for my mouse. I also changed the sensitivity of both the mouse and the pen. These steps have helped significantly; however, there is still a problem with the tablet; it sometimes acts rather erratically. I could not find out why until I did some Internet searching and found out a lot of other people are having the same problem and it seems to be related to Microsoft Windows 10! So until Microsoft communicates fixes to these pen & tablet developers I suspect many people including myself will continue to experience problems with their pens and tablets when using this operating system. How many of you are having similar problems?

Okay, back to photo editing. I have been enjoying the use of Photoshop Elements 14. I want to share some of my photos with you. One is a photo taken on the U.S. National Mall in Washington, DC of the Korean War Memorial. I edited this photo with both Lightroom and Nic Silver Efex software. This created a somewhat dated look in the photo but it was still missing something. While I was out on a windy day I noticed an American flag blowing in the wind and I decided to use a photograph of that flag in the picture. Through the magic of layers, selections and patience I managed to create the photo below.

While on that recent trip to New York a visit to Wall Street provided another great photo opportunity. The famous statue of the Wall Street bull is around the corner from the New York Stock Exchange. In the last several weeks I have watch my stock portfolio drop so I decided to create a rather silly photograph of the bull market crash. I hope you enjoy looking at this composite as much as I had making it. The market will come back one day and my portfolio will improve or I may have to try to sell these photographs to buy food! It probably means I’ll starve to death.

Well that’s enough ranting for this blog post. Hopefully you found something interesting in it or found it to be a good way to waste a few minutes of your valuable time. I hope it was the former! Now stop wasting time with this blog and go out and take some photographs.

Blog Posts

What to Photograph?

What to photograph is a question I ask myself quite often. Usually, I think about what themes I would like to photograph such as landscapes, nature, etc. or maybe this is the day that I really focus on street photography. In the last year or so I have been trying to determine what type of photographer I am. Not whether I am a good photographer or poor photographer, but what style of photography should I be pursuing. I’m sure many of you have asked yourself the same questions. And I’m equally sure that some of you have made a clear determination of what photographic path is most interesting to you. I’m just as sure that some of you are still trying to figure out what photographic journey are you actually on and why.

 A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a presentation at our photo club where we heard professional photographer John Barclay ( http://johnbarclayphotography.com/ ) talk about “Discovery and the Creative Choice” or fear, uncertainty and doubt in photography. His discussion centered around his own concerns about photography and how he had come to some very specific conclusions. Most importantly, is the idea that you should photograph what you enjoy, what you like to look at or what interests you. Being concerned about any particular theme or philosophy of photography is not all that important! Neither are some of the well-worn rules of photography, however, it is important to understand the rules at the beginning, so that you have a solid set of fundamental skills that will help you take great pictures.

 As I thought about the idea of just photographing things I enjoy or things that catch my eye, it was a freeing idea. It occurred to me that I had been taking pictures like this anyway. I was not focused, no pun intended, on any particular theme I just took pictures of things that caught my attention for whatever reason. As a consequence, in the last week I’ve had the opportunity to take some photographs that perhaps no one else would be interested in but I enjoyed taking them and looking at them. Interestingly, while I was preparing this blog post I read a similar one on 500px by Viktoria Haack entitled “Why you should Not specialize in one type of photography” https://iso.500px.com/why-you-should-not-specialize-in-one-type-of-photography/ . This has further convinced me to not be fixated on what type of photography to pursue but to photograph what I like!

 As an example, I recently had the opportunity to travel to New York City. There are not too many locations that offer more photographic opportunities than the business capital of America. When I arrived in New York it was raining and the forecast was not encouraging for any letup. As it turned out about 10 PM the rain subsided and merely became a slight drizzle. I got up and left my hotel with my camera and tripod and started walking. Because of the rain, the streets of Manhattan were unusually quiet, and somewhat deserted. As I was walking I happened upon a store being remodeled at the corner of 5th Avenue and 49th Street. As I looked in the store windows I saw some rather eerie window displays. These caught my attention and so I decided to take some photos. The challenge was to avoid the reflections in the glass from the lights nearby and passing cars. Fortunately, because of the rain there was not much traffic and due to the magic of Adobe Lightroom I was able to remove the few reflections that did appear.

Blog Post 11-26-15-1 Blog Post 11-26-15-3 Blog Post 11-26-15-4 Blog Post 11-26-15-5

These photos also gave me the opportunity to work a little more on my post-processing skills. I tried to maintain the dark, eerie mood; yet brighten up some of the faces, along with the glasses and other items that appeared in each scene. These pictures are eerie, as a matter of fact they’re downright weird; however, I enjoyed taking them and I enjoy looking at them. I hope you will also enjoy them. I’d like to know what you think, not only about the photos, but your own experiences in determining “what type of photographer are you?”

 

Blog Posts

Photographing Cityscapes

Okay, so the title is a big DUH! In any event, I had an opportunity recently to visit both Chicago and Las Vegas and to take some photographs. I decided to focus on architecture in both cities. These two cities could not be more different. Chicago is filled with bold and imaginative high-rise buildings that feature stunning architecture and style! Las Vegas, on the other hand, is somewhat of an adult fantasyland, the architecture here focuses on creating the illusion of something magical and exciting in hopes that you won’t mind losing your money while you are gambling!

The environment for both cities is also quite unique. Chicago hugs the shoreline of Lake Michigan, while Las Vegas is located in the desert. Chicago is a city of big business, big commerce and big industry. Many major corporations are either headquartered or have bases there. Las Vegas, is a city whose industry is hotels, casinos and visitors.

In any event, both cities provided some great photographic opportunities. In Chicago, I did make an effort to try and take all of my photographs in the early part of the day to take advantage of some beautiful blue skies and white clouds. One of the photos in this post features two towers, the tower on the left is black and the tower on the right is a bright silver. The reflective surfaces created a lot of glare. The sky was somewhat dark so I decided to process this photo as a monochrome image.

Trump Tower is on the right.

Trump Tower is on the right.

The next photo was in the shadow of the Chicago CTA (subway) “L” train, with the iconic Trump tower in the background. My vantage point for this photo was standing in the street near the curb trying to avoid being hit by a car, truck or bus! When I uploaded this picture to my computer, I was initially disappointed in it because most of the picture was in heavy shadow. Fortunately, Adobe Lightroom’s shadow slider opened up this picture considerably along with the use of the Tone Curve tool. The lighting was somewhat tricky, but it created what I think is a good photograph. You can be the judge of that yourself!

CTA's Elevated "L" Train with the Trump Tower in the background.

CTA’s Elevated “L” Train with the Trump Tower in the background.

One of my favorite photos of this trip is titled Diving Platform. When I first saw this building I thought “Now that is a photograph waiting to happen!”. The sky was blue as was the tint of the building. The issue was where to stand, so I tried several angles. The best position was standing as close as I could and pointing the camera straight up and using the tree branches to enhance the photo. Since it was the middle of the day, many people passed by, some looked at me with a little curiosity but most just ignored me!

Building acroos the street from the Sofitel Hotel. Photo shot at midday.

Building across the street from the Sofitel Hotel. Photo shot at midday.

I also took quite a few photographs that featured highly contrasty, bright skies and therefore the resulting photographs were not very good. So I didn’t post them to hide my lack of photographic skill! I had the opportunity to see firsthand how important the correct light actually is, even for shooting in the city. I did some sunrise photography in Chicago and I was quite pleased with those pictures, but I decided not to post them in this blog in order to be brief.

Las Vegas, because of its location in the desert, the skies are extremely bright during the day and generally speaking clouds are somewhat limited. This definitely makes it difficult to take daytime photographs of the buildings along the Las Vegas strip. I did attempt to take one photograph of the New York New York Hotel and Casino which I posted in this blog. As you can see, the sky is quite boring and lacks any interest. I had to use the graduated filter in Adobe Lightroom to lower the exposure just to make it a presentable photo.

Under the category of people say weird things, I’m sure the following situation has probably happened to you. As I was standing with my camera mounted on a tripod and pointed to the New York New York Casino, not once, but on several occasions people asked me what was I doing? I smiled and fought the urge to say something really sarcastic and merely replied “I’m taking a photo of the casino”.

Shot in the late afternoon from the MGM Hotel & Casino Sidewalk.

Shot in the late afternoon from the MGM Hotel & Casino Sidewalk.

One of the benefits of being in the desert were the clear skies. I decided to take advantage of this by getting up at 4:00am the next morning to take some photographs. The Paris Hotel and Casino was situated in a favorable spot to catch the first glimpses of dawn breaking. I set up my camera across the street from the hotel, interestingly enough in front of the beautiful and very photographable Bellagio Hotel and Casino. The reflecting pool that you see is the pool that contains the famous water shows that the Bellagio is known for. This photo is another example of taking advantage of light, both the manmade light from the casinos and the light from the early morning sky. The photo was processed in Adobe Lightroom and Nik software’s Viveza 2 helped to brighten up the Eiffel Tower.

Shot at daybreak from the Belliago Hotel & Casino sidewalk.

Shot at daybreak from the Belliago Hotel & Casino sidewalk.

A little later that morning, I walked up Las Vegas Boulevard to the new Aria Hotel and Casino complex. Near the hotel are two very unique condominium towers along with an upscale shopping mall. The towers are unique in that they are actually built to look as if they were leaning in opposite directions. I took several shots from different positions because each time I peeked at the LCD screen the buildings tended to look straight! Finally, as I stood at the edge of the street corner in harm’s way, I got the best angle for the shot! Again, the early morning sky helped to make this an attractive picture. Later in the day, the sky was much too bright to take the same shot.

Aria Condos and Shopping Mall. Shot in the early morning. These towers really are tilted its not the camera!

Aria Condos and Shopping Mall. Shot in the early morning. These towers really are tilted its not the camera!

So what have I learned from all of this? Besides the fact that I needed my wife to watch out for traffic as I took pictures, that lighting really is important. Another thing I learned, is if I am going to take a lot of pictures of tall buildings, I may need to invest in a tilt-shift lens to correct the distortion caused by a regular lens in this situation.

As I have said before, this blog is not intended to teach anything because I don’t have enough skill as a photographer to take on that task. This blog is my attempt at documenting my experiences as an amateur photographer. Do any of you amateurs have an experience to share with shooting cityscapes? Let me know by leaving a comment.

Blog Posts

Local Photo Opportunities

It has been a long time since I have posted anything on this blog. It’s not really very surprising when you consider I haven’t had anything to talk about. In the last month or so I have been taking photos that were mostly photos of the family vacation and other things that were not appropriate for my blog. I am not even a big fan of Facebook, it seems too many people are publishing way too much personal information and I don’t plan to join the crowd.

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I decided to take a short trip to Frederick Maryland for a day of sightseeing. Frederick is an historic town from both the colonial period and Civil War standpoints. Many famous Americans such as George Washington, Francis Scott Key, Robert E. Lee and the first American-born canonized saint, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton have visited, stayed in or in the case of Robert E. Lee fought in the vicinity of Frederick, Maryland. Roger Taney, a local attorney, eventually became the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and presided over the Dred Scott v. Sandford case (1857), that ruled slaves, were not considered at the time the Constitution was written as citizens and, whether free or slave, could not be considered citizens of the United States. Most American High School students are taught about this seminal case in their U.S. History classes. The historic downtown area of Frederick is filled with old buildings, shops, restaurants, theaters and other points of interest. The nearby area is rural and has many historical sites to explore. Among them are several very old covered bridges.

I decided to bring my camera and to make this a photographic sightseeing tour. One of the first sites was “The Angel” painted by Artist William Cochran on the Carroll Creek Park Bridge. This style of art is known as “trick the eye” and is intended to be seen from several different viewing angles. The images I’ve included in this blog do not do justice to this rather unique painting. Interestingly, it took quite a while to take these three photographs because every place I stood the image did look different but not significant enough to notice! When I got home I went through the 10 or 15 pictures I had taken and picked out the three that you see posted in this blog as the best representation I could make of the visual trickery of this painting.

While we were walking down, interestingly enough, Church Street, I saw a stark white church with two spires that caught my attention. It was the Evangelical Lutheran Church established in 1762. I decided to take a photograph standing as close as I could to the church and looking straight up so that the spires and the pinnacle of the roof all pointed to a bright blue, cloudless sky. I might add that before I went on this trip I decided to try and use different angles and perspectives for some photographs. This idea came to me from one of the photographic books I was reading that discussed the idea of trying to find different viewpoints and not take the same old photographs everyone else does. Seems to me this came out rather nicely, but what are your thoughts?

The next photos that I decided to publish were of the Loy’s Station Covered Bridge that was originally built in 1880. It spans a rather small creek named Owens Creek. At one time there were a great number of these covered bridges in Frederick County; however, today only three remain. I visited them but decided to post pictures of this one bridge. This also gave me an opportunity to try my skills in Adobe Lightroom and convert the color photograph to a black-and-white one. I think I prefer the black and white version even though the right side is slightly blown out and somewhat distracting. That is one of the problems that I continue to experience and hopefully my photographic skills will improve enough to eliminate this in the future. Or I might try to do what’s recommended and that is to take the photo in better lighting conditions; but unfortunately, I was there at 3pm and I took the shot and that’s as good as it was going to be!

I guess the thing to take away from this blog post is that there are many great photographic opportunities just about anywhere you look. You don’t have to travel a long distance to find some interesting things. Having said that my wife and I are planning a train trip to Chicago and then flying to Las Vegas later in October. Hopefully I will have some great photographs to show you in that blog post; however, you never know about these things! Until the next post remember to keep pressing the shutter button because there is always a great photo out there, we just have to find it!

Blog Posts

A Bee and a Butterfly

The wings of a Bee

The wings of a Bee

Open Wings

Open Wings

I recently went on a family vacation with my grandchildren, my daughter, son-in-law and my wife. We rented a home in North Carolina that sat on 75 acres and included river frontage on the Dan River. The home and setting were beautiful and I decided to take advantage of some of the numerous photographic opportunities there. So my first order of business was to determine what might be hidden among the 75 acres of undeveloped land!

 My oldest granddaughter and I are both interested in photography, so she went with me as we scouted locations for a photo shoot. As you can imagine we found several scenes that were idyllic and well suited to photography. We stumbled upon an old home site that only had two weathered stone chimneys remaining standing. It created a fantastic photo opportunity and my granddaughter decided she would concentrate on that. She must’ve taken 100 different photos of that site and most of them turned out quite nicely.

 I decided to take advantage of the numerous butterflies that were flying about in a field of flowers near the home. Early the next morning I walked to the field and set up my camera and tripod. I then frantically proceeded to turn and pivot the camera to try and capture a butterfly as it landed on a flower. This proved to be an extremely poor idea! Trying to capture a butterfly in flight is not an easy task to do, especially for a novice photographer such as myself. It must’ve been very comical to see me jerking my camera around trying to catch an elusive butterfly on a very small flower. I’m lucky that I didn’t knock the camera down or fall over the tripod with my clumsy self.

 The next morning I decided on a new plan of attack. I got up and took one of my younger granddaughters with me and asked her to pick a flower that she thought butterflies would land on. The flower she picked out I set my sights on it, and proceeded to focus on that specific flower and then wait for something to land on it. This proved to be a much more fruitful strategy. It just required patience on my part. Thankfully I captured quite a few photos of both butterflies and bees on both that flower and an adjacent one. I guess the moral of the story is to think things through before you start shooting somewhat aimlessly, especially with moving objects such as butterflies and bees!

 As I was reviewing the photos in Adobe Lightroom I noticed a couple of consistent errors on my part. Although I focused on the flower, I didn’t take fully into account just how narrow the depth of field would be for that type of a shot. As a consequence, some of the flower in the foreground was very clear and sharp but as you can see the rear of the flower was out of focus. Fortunately both the butterfly and the bee were in sharp focus. I was particularly pleased with the photo of the bee because you can clearly see the detail in its wings! Another problem I noticed was with composition. I planned to have a good bokeh in the background so that the flower, the butterfly or bee would stand out in sharp focus against the foliage in the background. Unfortunately, I think I had too much of the background and that created a sense of clutter in my photographs. Take a look and tell me what you think.

I also decided to experiment a little bit with Adobe Lightroom by creating a vignette for the photo of the butterfly. I think this helped remove some clutter and also focus more attention on the butterfly. I’m interested in your opinion of this and any other comments you might have on my photography especially anything that can help me improve! Until next time, keep shooting!

 

Blog Posts

Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop Elements Horsing Around

Earlier this year I purchased a copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom by Scott Kelby. This proved to be an easy read and I learned a great deal about using Lightroom. That is, until I tried to figure out the Print Module. I just seemed to be one of the people who didn’t get it. I had problems getting different sized prints to come out correctly and I could not figure out how I was making mistakes when Scott Kelby’s book told me I could easily get it! Since I was not printing anything other than 4×6 inch prints and that was working out ok when I just exported a file, I decided to stop reading the book. In hindsight, this was another of my poor decisions in photography along with bad compositions, soft images and blown out highlights! I suspect some of you reading this blog have had similar or maybe worse experiences.

In the last couple of weeks I decided to make a definite commitment to learning how to use the print module in Adobe Lightroom version 6. I made a monumental decision to start where I usually start which is to begin looking at Adobe TV and the training material on Adobe’s website to learn more about the products. This was helpful but unfortunately it did not give me the detailed background I really wanted. I decided to try a different approach and began looking through YouTube.com to find some free training videos. I discovered a gold mine of great resources! One of the ones that I enjoyed watching featured professional photographer Robert Rodriguez Jr. and it was sponsored by B&H Photo. You can click on the link below to watch the video.

B&H Photo with Robert Rodriquez, Jr. and Master the Lightroom 5 Print Module

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4c-Bu8St3L8

Another great resource was my local photo club. At the last meeting I brought up the fact that I was having difficulty with the print module and asked one of the club experts for some help. Denise was kind enough to spend the majority of the meeting explaining to me not only how to make the Lightroom Print Module work, but also gave me more detailed insight into the whole area of digital printing. In the way of a brief commercial, let me say that if you have not yet joined a local photo club, what are you waiting for? I have learned a great deal being a member of the club and have even competed in some of the photo contests. I have not won anything yet, but hope springs eternal even for the worst of photographers!

Denise gave me the idea of also using Photoshop for printing. I do not have Photoshop but I do have Photoshop Elements version 13. I have done some small editing with Photoshop Elements but nothing significant. So this gave me another opportunity to expand my knowledge. This time I decided to go right to YouTube.com and seek out some resources. I looked at several different videos and found one series from Anthony Morganti to be very helpful. He has a whole series of training videos on Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Lightroom. You can click on the link below to look at one of his videos.

Anthony Morganti’s Learn Adobe Photoshop Elements – Episode 7: Layers and Layer Masks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ml13ZCHrvs4

I now felt that I was ready for the challenge of creating not only a composite photo using layers from Photoshop Elements but also printing the results using my newfound skills and acumen! Now I just needed a photo to edit that would be interesting and challenging. I looked no further than my last post of A Horse of Another Color. I decided to use a picture of a brick wall that I had taken recently just for this type of project. Adobe Lightroom’s Print Module also allowed me to create a gray mat and include a graphic with my initials as a watermark on the photo! This blog is not meant to be how to do it blog, so I won’t bore you with the details. It is sufficient to say that I had fun creating the composite photo in this post and also printing it successfully. When I showed the picture to my wife she said she didn’t like it because it was not natural or real! Critics are everywhere! I guess that is the great thing about photography at the hobby level, you just have to please yourself! What are your thoughts?

Fun with Photoshop Elements or just horsing around!

Fun with Photoshop Elements or just horsing around!

Blog Posts

A Horse of another Color

When I started this blog I was using a Canon Rebel T3i. This camera has been performing well for me and meeting all of my needs. Since I purchased the camera with the kit lens I have upgraded the lenses to the EF series. My primary lens is the Canon EF 24 – 70mm L-series lens. This is an incredible lens designed for a full frame camera body. For the last several months I have been debating whether or not I should upgrade the camera body to the new Canon 70d Mark VII, older full frame 6D or wait for the replacement to the 6D.

 The thought of moving to a full frame camera body has been very intriguing to me. It seems that most of my photographs are of people or objects that are stationary. I’m not a nature or a sports photographer, so the features of the 70D were not my priority. I tend to enjoy urban scenes and anything that strikes me as interesting. As it happens, I was at my local camera store talking to the owner and he asked me if I would consider buying a slightly used Canon 5D Mark III that had only 17,000 shutter operations. I told him that was slightly above my price range and skill level. He asked me about both and then he made me an offer I could not refuse. I’m now the proud owner of the Canon 5D Mark III!

 Fortunately, the Canon operating environment for both cameras is fairly similar. In the last several weeks that I have owned my 5D, I have been able to make the transition from the Rebel fairly easily. There are many, many features that I cannot take advantage of as of today, but I hope to incorporate the new features as I continue to employ this camera in my photographic journey. The quality of the images from my Canon 5D Mark III are certainly a horse of a different color from those taken with my Rebel T3i!

 Recently, my wife and I were driving through the countryside on the way to a farm market to buy some fresh produce. As I turned into the parking lot I noticed a multicolored, whimsical statue of a horse in the field a few yards away. Fortunately, I had my camera in the car, so I decided to take advantage of an unexpected photographic opportunity. The image of this horse is probably only the 20th or 30th picture that I had taken with the 5D at that time. The picture style was set to neutral and I have done some minor editing with Adobe Lightroom version 6. The colors are bright and the image is sharp. I now understand why more the more advanced photographers in my photo club have advised me to always keep some extra money set aside for camera and accessories purchases!

Horse of another Color

Horse of another Color