Each morning I try to go for a 3 mile walk. It is my only outdoor activity that I try to participate in since the Covid restrictions have darkened my door! A couple of weeks ago, we had snow and ice storms that made walking outside somewhat difficult and very dangerous. I decided to visit the local shopping mall before it opened to use that shelter for my exercise. As I was walking on the second level I noticed the patterns that were created by the skylights and supporting structures. Fortunately, I always have one of my cameras nearby, as usual it was my phone! I hope you enjoy the photo. Keep shooting wherever you may be.
The COVID19 Pandemic is keeping most of us from going out to continue our photography hobby. This means we need to find some other activities or get creative with photography outside of our tried and true routines. As I was watching a television show, and there are very few worth watching, a clip was run showing how deserted New York and other major cities looked. It was a very surreal scene, but it did give me an idea.
I proceeded to open my Adobe Lightroom catalog to find some cityscape photos I had done in the past along with some photos with trees and a few with clouds. These photos were then composited with Adobe Photoshop to create my version of a Fading City. Hopefully, our urban areas will come back to their former vibrancy but there is guarantee of that! We may all get used to an unexpected difference in urban life after COVID19.
Hopefully, you are finding some creative outlets for practicing your photographic hobby. Please come back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com to see what shelter-in-place photography project I attempt next time. Stay healthy and keep shooting!
Years ago, I read “On Walden Pond” by Henry David Thoreau. I vaguely remember it as being an interesting book at the beginning, but it started to lose my interest as the pages wore on. Perhaps I was too young to really appreciate the wisdom contained in those pages! Today with the Wuhan Virus or Novel Corona Virus or COVID-19, whatever you choose to name it, I am starting to gain new insights into simplicity! Sheltering-in-place and social distancing have been forcing me to take life a little slower, to appreciate what I have and where I am at this stage of life. It is even affecting my photography hobby.
Recently, I blogged about photographing everyday scenes around your environment or trying some new photography techniques with whatever may be at hand. A couple of days ago, I was sitting on my deck and enjoying the sunshine and peacefulness of my surroundings. A big bumble bee flew over the deck railing and came right in front of me and seemed to be staring into my face! Just as suddenly it flew away. The thought occurred that perhaps it would return, and I might be able to photograph it.
I went back into the house, opened my camera bag and pulled out my camera. Returning to the deck, my chair and my jazz music, I patiently awaited the return of my subject. Finally, it returned or perhaps it was a different bee. Afterall, they all look the same. Since most of you reading this blog are hobbyist photographers you know how difficult this shot would be and how many wasted shots it takes to get close to a decent photo of a bee in flight. It was a challenge. But I did have one good shot.
“Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Looking at this photo and the thinking about nature somehow reminded me about “On Walden Pond”. The simplicity of a single bee in flight was a comforting thought in these difficult times and a signal that this difficulty will soon pass as surely as the bee quickly flying away. Perhaps one of the good things coming from this pandemic will be our reaching for more simplicity in our formerly busy and hectic lives. It might also lead us to appreciate more fully the people in our lives and what we have!
Please come back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com in the near future.
Continuing the theme of finding photo opportunities during the current shelter-in-place caused by COVID19, below is a photo I recently captured. There is a county park directly behind our neighborhood. Yesterday was a very bright and sunny day, so I decided to walk in the woods of the park. I hoped to find something to photograph and decided to take advantage of the harsh mid-day sun and the shadows it cast. The stump in the upper middle of the photo caught my eye along with the shadows from the nearby trees. I have titled this photo Broken Heart.
Hopefully, I will find something else to photograph this week as we continue our shelter-in-place isolation. Try to find something interesting in your immediate surroundings to photograph. Use your creativity and please stay healthy!
Please come back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com to see what I photograph and share next time.
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!
Antietam Creek Landscapes
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.
Its Snow Wonderful!
Ok, that is a well-worn and tired cliché, but I needed a title for this blog post. I live in Northern Virginia and large snow storms are an infrequent occurrence. This past weekend we did have a nice snowfall and it made for a beautiful winter scene in my backyard.
Snow can be difficult to photograph if you only pay attention to the light meter readings in your camera’s viewfinder. I am not a technical expert, but I do know that most built-in light meters are programmed to optimize something called 18% gray. This usually works out well enough except when photographing snow. If you just use the meter to set your camera then you will probably get a photo with gray snow! Usually not a good image! I most often shoot with at least one stop more light than the meter indicates, and the result is white snow. This is also referred to as exposing to the right. You sometimes need to adjust up or down depending on how bright the snow may be.
As I was looking at my backyard it occurred to me that there were a few simple compositions that might yield some attractive photographs. Here are two of my favorites from my backyard. Both photos were post-processed with Adobe Lightroom and I placed vignettes to center the viewers attention on the bird feeders in the frame.
Hopefully these photos highlight the fact that you can usually find photo opportunities almost anywhere if you just take a few moments to look around.
Please come back and visit www.cestlavie4me.com to see where my photographic journey takes me next.
A Composite Attempt
Thanks for coming back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com to see where my photographic journey has brought me. The last few days have been damp, rainy and cold and I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. I decided to do a little photography experiment. My wife had a floral bouquet that she was about to throw out and I decided to use that as a photographic subject before the trash can received the flowers!
After taking a few photos, I thought it would help if I added some fresh flowers to the base. I took a few more photos and then decided that maybe it was time to try using a flash to see what type of effect that would create. The result was that all the flowers were equally illuminated, and this was not the effect I was interested in achieving. After trying a few more shots and not getting what I was looking for I decided the best way to approach this would be to use Photoshop to make some edits.
In Photoshop I made selections of the base and tabletop of both a photo with and without flash. And using a mask on both photos I edited out some of the oppositely illuminated flowers. And then merge the resulting two photos and the result was a photo with the dead flowers being somewhat dark in the fresh flowers being somewhat bright. This was close to the photo I was trying to achieve. My next step was to change the background of the photo to eliminate my kitchen wall! I found a photo that I’ve taken of some plywood and so I use that as the background by first lightning the photo by using a blend mode and then adding a very light orange adjustment layer; the net result is background that looks something like wallpaper.
Since the right side of the photo look like that was the direction of light I decided to try and use a drop shadow to create a shadow. This attempt did not turn out as well as I would like but it is a first attempt and this blog is about documenting my attempts at learning photography and using post-processing software. Here’s a somewhat finished photograph. I say somewhat because I save the file as layers and hopefully in the future as I gain more skill I can go back and re-edit this photo in a manner that is more artistic.
Please come back to visit www.dansepourdeux.com to see if I’ve made any progress in becoming a better photographer!
Since I started my interest in digital photography in the last 3+ years the number of videos on photography, articles on photography, books on photography and photography podcasts that have passed before my eyes or through my ears has been substantial. Hopefully, all of this has helped me to improve both my photography and post-processing skills. Recently, I found myself gaining more interest in monochrome images. Fortunately, in digital photography all it takes is a simple button click in Adobe Lightroom to convert a color photo to monochrome. Then the magic of Lightroom, DxO Silver eFex, Photoshop or any other software programs can help you further edit your masterpiece.
One of the facets of photography that is also getting my attention is the concept of “Interest” which to me is how to create a photograph that is interesting to view? This is a very subjective exercise because everyone would probably have an opinion on why any given picture is interesting or not to them. How often do you look at a photo and think to yourself, “That is an interesting photo”? I must admit that I have just recently started to do this myself. In the past my comments would have been primarily, “That is a good photo”, or “Wow, that is beautiful” or something like “Good capture”. What are your most common comments when you view a photo? Perhaps you are the technical type and say, “Great Composition” or “This photo is tack sharp throughout” maybe you would say “Good tonality in this photo”. At times it seems that a monochrome photo limits distraction by allowing the eye to just see tonality in the image. There is no wrong answer, I think we all see photos with a different eye (pun intended).
Here are a few examples from my perspective. The first two photos are nice but not particularly interesting to my eye. How about your eye?
Blacksmith at Work
The next photo is one that I find interesting. You may be asking why I find this one interesting. That is a fair question. I think the photo has an element of mystery, the lighting creates a strong emotion of potential danger yet the bright building and sky in the background points a way out. This photo is interesting to me as a monochrome image but as a color image it is a little boring! What are your thoughts on this photo?
It seems to me that for a photo to be interesting to view it needs to connect with the viewer in some emotional manner. That is what will cause the viewer to spend a few more moments gazing at a photo. It makes the viewer feel some tug at their emotions. In the modern world we have a multitude of distractions all grabbing for our attention. As we look to create an interesting photo, we need to keep in mind that we are competing for the viewer’s attention. As stated earlier in this post everyone has a different eye for what might interest them in a photo. My goal going forward is to try to create interesting photos and that means connecting on some emotional level with the viewer. That should prove to be a great photographic challenge for me.
Please come back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com to see where my photography journey takes me next!