Friday, December 26, 2014


The kids on Christmas Morning ↑

The grandparents on Christmas Day ↓ — somewhat stylized. :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

It's time to wish Yall a Merry Christmas, except I can't seem to figure out who this Yall person is.

Anyway, I do wish you (or even youse and yiz) a Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, or whatever greeting pulls your seasonal sleigh.

These two images are from signs and displays in a local shot, and I just kinda like did my composting sorta thang.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Lights

We have some older houses in this town, and they attract me quite a bit. I have always wanted to take some night photos, and particularly at Christmas. so ti came to pass that on  one recent cold evening, I finally got around to venturing out with my camera. It took me many years to get around to it, but I like the results.

I will present the photos with no further comment, except to say that they were all multiple exposures. I would use the brightest exposure for the snow, the darkest one for the lights, and use whatever else seemed to fit for the rest of the photo. This was all not with manual blending using layer masks and not an HDR program although that would likely have worked well too.

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Danica's dance academy always has an open session for parents during the Christmas season, so I am going to post a bunch of pictures, starting with the one above.

Don't be afraid to crop because the best photo, or at least the photo that you really want, is often inside the photo that you took. We're not pros, so we can't usually get to the right spot with the perfect lens and equipment, so it's fine to do a little work in post.

At the dance session, it was almost impossible to get photos of Danica alone, so I cropped the first photo out of this one. ↓

Perhaps you can see the problem? Even after cropping, the girl behind her was also in the photo, as were the decals on the wall.

I didn't want either in this particular photo, so I set to work with much cloning and painting to eliminate both her and the decals. I have never before gone to such great lengths to remove an object or person from a photo, and I might not again, but I wanted to see what could be done, and the first photo of the post is the result.

Here's an excellent link to demonstrate the kind of process that I tried to follow in my photo: . I believe that you can do this with any version of Photoshop because both the clone tool and the brush have been around forever.

Now, for a few more from the session. I love her pose and expression in this ↓ one. It's not the best photo, technically, but none of them from this kind of shoot are — not for me and my camera anyway.

For most of the time, I was reduced to shooting her back, but I liked catching her at the high point of her jump. I stylized this one quite a bit — just for fun.

Because her back was often to the camera, I decided to take a few pictures looking into the mirror. This ↓ is one of them.

And here are a few more without further comment.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Perchance to Sleep

"To sleep, perchance to dream-
ay, there's the rub."
Hamlet (III, i, 65-68)
I know that Shakespeare, through Hamlet, said "perchance to dream," but I'm changing dream to sleep for this post. Sorry, Will.

There was a time when Sue and I went to bed together and got up together, more or less anyway. We were young. Now we are not so young, and there is a huge discrepancy in our sleep patterns.

This is a function of aging and how it differs from person to person.

Just last weekend, I couldn't stay in bed for as much as 6 hours. This is pretty well my new normal. Sometimes, it's less than 6 hours, and infrequently it is more than that. I become almost ebullient if I manage close to 7 hours and nigh unto ecstatic on those extremely rare occasions when I get close to 8 hours, which I think may have happened once in the past 6 months.

Meanwhile, Sue was gone for almost 12 hours on that same night (and on into day) — twice as long. While this is not quite the norm, something approximating 10 hours is pretty well what the pretty lady requires. She seems to need this much sleep and will go to bed totally spent at 9PM after having slept for 10 hours the night before.

As tired as I might be, I do try to stay up until 11 o'clock because I would rather not get up before 5AM. If I'm doing well, I will get my 6 hours and only 6 hours of sleep and and that is with the aid of a pill. If I don't take the pill, I will most likely manage to go to sleep but I find myself tossing and turning with increasing fury until I heave my exasperated self out of bed after only a few hours sleep.

Just last night I was up 2 hours later than the good woman, and just this morning, I was up 2 hours earlier. It's crazy-making I tell ya.

And so it is that I curl up in my recliner most afternoons. Now, you might say that this spoils my nights sleep, but I protest that his cannot be the case. For one thing, I do not always manage to nap, and for another thing, my naps, should I manage to drift off, almost invariably last for 20 minutes or less — usually less. That should really not be the cause of me existing on so little nighttime sleep, especially considering that 20 minutes is pretty well the max.

I am pretty certain of this 20 minute duration because I keep my eye on the clock — when I hit the recliner and when I rouse. Frequently, as I begin to find myself succumbing to drowsiness, I will think to look at the clock a second time before nodding off. Once again, I can confirm that 20 minutes is pretty well the max. In fact, my total time in the recliner yesterday was 17 minutes, which, obviously, included whatever amount of time it took me to nod off and then to wake up enough to think of checking the clock again.

A curious thing frequently overtakes me in my easy chair; I often see faces. These faces are very clear and are always people whom I don't know and, to my knowledge, have never laid eyes upon. The odd thing about seeing these faces so clearly, in addition to the fact that I don't know these people, is that I cannot ordinarily call clear images to my imagination when I am awake. So, seeing these faces kind of wakes me from my drowsiness because I find them interesting, but as soon as I become aware, they quickly fade. Frustrating.

I really have no clue as to how and why the faces work. On on occasion, they moved so quickly from one to another that it was like cards being flipped quickly. Mind you, it has only happened once like that, but I frequently see one or two faces of people who are strangers to me.

So, you can see that even my so-called naps are rather disturbed. Indeed, if I feel that I truly require a few minutes of unbroken napping, I must roll onto my side, for I only seem to see the faces when I'm on my back. Also, if I stay on my back I tend to keep waking myself with snores and sometimes drools.

This is our sleep story: mine and Sue's. We have most certainly gone in opposite directions. Oddly enough, we are in somewhat the same predicament as each other. Neither of us can get enough sleep: she because even 10 hours barely does it for her, and me because no matter what, I simply can seldom sleep past 6 hours — or 6 hours + 20 minutes, if you insist, on a good day.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Warping with a Purpose

Photoshop CC has a Perspective Warp filter. Although I don't think I would have the occasion to use it often, if ever, I looked for a photo that I might try it on.

I chose this one that I took last year about this time.

There's nothing wrong with it, but I decided to see what I could accomplish using Perspective Warp.

As you can see, I turned the house, so that more of the front is visible. It's not a huge change, but it's a change.

Perspective Warp works in such a way that it seems like the photographer has shifted his/her position. It could come in very handy when one simply can't get to the position one wants. Although it wasn't necessary in this case, I think I do prefer the 'warped' version better.

Just to see the difference a little more, I put the two perspectives side by side in this composite.

AFAIK this tool is only found in the Creative Cloud version of the program -- Photoshop CC. Adobe has switched to a monthly subscription plan for its major programs, and you can rent both Lightroom and Photoshop for $9.99US/month. It's really not an onerous cost if you're into photography as Photoshop alone used to cost well over $500 to purchase and the updates would set us back another $200 or so about every 18 months. With the new model, Adobe rolls our updates whenever they are ready for market.

Meanwhile, getting back to Perspective Warp, this link provides a very good explanatory, video tutorial.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Blurring the Background in Post

Note re. Captcha:  I read something about this a few days ago. It's a new variation, and I think the idea is that as long as you're within the Google system and trusted as it were, you won't have to use it, even if you see it. I wish I had paid more attention at the time, but I don't feel like going back to research it. :)


While on the subject of DOF (Depth of Filed) and blurry backgrounds, I pause to mention that if all else fails, you can sometimes accomplish the effect in post (post processing). Sometimes, you are just shooting quick snapshots but see something that you like and wish to enhance it a bit. Such is the case with this shot from Danica's birthday party last April. The background is a little too in-focus for my taste.

In Photoshop, I used the field blur option from the blur gallery. I set a blurry point on both the left and right edges. That blurred the whole photo, so to counteract that, I set a number of non-blur points around the subjects. I also used the mask created by the filter to darken the background a little.

This is the result.

Once again, just because I have it for another project, here is a mono version of the same photo.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Blurry Backgrounds Without Big Aperture Lenses

I have previously posted about using DOF or depth of Field to isolate subjects from the background. We tend to think that this isolation can only be captured by using an advanced lens with a wide open aperture. There is another way, however.

In this photo, I did not use a wide aperture but a medium opening (f5.6). It was a telephoto lens, so by standing back and zooming in on the seed head, I was able to achieve the same effect as being closer with a wide open aperture. In this case, I had my lens extended to 142mm, which is a fair zoom, particularly with a crop sensor camera.

I think it worked pretty well in separating the subject from the background, possibly even better than an in-tight, macro-style shot at f2.8.

FYI: Those fuzzy shapes in the background are distant buildings that would really mar the photo if their detail was visible. As it is, I think they look acceptable: not perfect, but acceptable.

In passing, here is a b&w version of the same image that I really did because of a b&w meme/challenge on FB. B&W wasn't the intent of the photo, but since I had it, I thought I may as well include it here. I do like the colour version better, though.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Photoshopping My Hockey Star Grandson

We made our first visit of the year to JJ's hockey practice. I well remember the first session that we attended last year — the one where he preferred to sit on the ice to skating. Well, he's doing pretty good right now. After shooting all sorts of photos through the plexiglass, I chose some for a collage, which is a good way to tell a story. At one point, I did whole photo albums using the collage method; when you can get 7 or more shots of one print, it's a good way to make an album. I haven't done this as much lately (who does photo albums in the digital age?), but I still more or less know how to make a collage (or montage or composite if you prefer).

This is the result.

And this is how we got there.

Layer 0: A shot for the background, lightened and blurred. I wanted a background in case there were gaps between the individual photos.

Layers 1 and 2: my larger, anchor images forming a frame for the rest of the photos. You can see my layer masks, used to blend the images with each other and the background.

Layers 3 to 6: 4 more smaller images showing different aspects of the practice session.

Layer 7: Putting all of the previous layers together into one layer. At this point, I cloned away as best as possible bits of yellow etc that you can see in the base layers that pull the eye away from the subject.

Layers 8 and 9: I added a title in the bottom left, and a little signature on the blade of the hockey stick.

The next day, something in my brain told me to try to make a sports card, so I did but will just present it and not describe the process. I made it to the standard 2.5" x 3.5" which is just a 5 x 7 downsized. So, I really made a 5 x 7 and then shrunk to the correct size for printing.

I also took several video clips and mashed them into one montage.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The Making of a Composite Image

This is the story of how I made this photo, which is a composite of two photos.

It began by taking a picture through the missing pane in the barn at the cottage. I held the camera over my head and took a few exposures and settled on one to process.

It was okayish, but after a long time of letting it simmer, I decided that I wanted to see something more interesting through the panes.

So, I thought this one shot at Wheelers might make a suitable interior.

After bringing the images into separate layers in one Photoshop file, I did some masking to put them together. Somehow, I couldn't get the two images to look right together although I settled for some darkening and blurring of the interior shot. This result is below.

After all the work was done, I saved it and then re-opened it in Lightroom ... and decided that it didn't work as well as I hoped. For one thing, I wished that I had left the panes more opaque to draw more attention to the view thru the missing pane.

Darn it all, I had flattened the file and lost my selections and masks, so I started from scratch and imported this image instead.

On my first try, I inserted the whole image and saved the photo, thinking I was done. IIt had taken two layers of masking to get the opaque effect that I was looking for.

But then, once again back in Lightroom, I decided that the fence didn't look right in the thru-the-window view,  so I re-opened the file. Thankfully I had not flattened the image, so the selections and masks were still available for editing. I am a slow learner, but, sometimes at least, I do learn.

Anyway, I selected the layer(s) of the interior photo and used the transform tool to pull it out until the fence was gone from the image. Hopefully, it now looks more or less proper, and you may notice that I did achieve the effect of making the part of the room behind the glass, dimmer.

So, here is the finished image one more time (the same as at the beginning). It was an interesting project that I undertook on a whim, and I am happy enough with the result.

Friday, November 28, 2014

On Finding Common Ground

I am not normally a biography reader, and I don't say that with pride. It's just not a genre that I tend to think about. However, Justin Trudeau's new autobiography, Common Ground, practically leaped into my hands at the library this week, and I consumed this very readable book in just a few days. Trudeau wrote in such a conversational style that it was both interesting and easy going.

Justin is the son of, arguably, Canada's most renown prime minister of the twentieth century or at least my part of it which began about halfway through the century. Pierre Trudeau was both a charismatic and a contentious politician, whose standout accomplishments (in my mind and likely in most) were repatriating the constitution and enacting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Having lived through the Trudeau era, both for better and for worse, I was interested to read Justin's accounts of his early days and memories and opinions about his famous father, who demanded that his sons show respect for others, including those on the other side of issues. This surprised me somewhat, as Pierre was seen as a bit of an aloof elitist.

Although it was all interesting to me, I was most interested in Justin's entry into political life, which came rather late in his life, as well as his political views. I was rather surprised that he didn't indicate very much interest in politics in his earlier years, only becoming interested and absorbed in his thirties after spending several years as a teacher in British Columbia in both private and public schools.

I had assumed that the younger Trudeau had been given an easy path to the leadership of the Liberal Party on the strength of his father's name, but such was not the case. When he first began to show an interest in running for parliament, his party actually blocked him from entering the nomination race in his home riding and, then, was offered no support in his quest to represent Papineau as the party preferred two other candidates over Trudeau.

Fascinating to me, was how Justin worked the riding for so many months in order to build support for his candidacy. He was constantly knocking on doors and engaging people at subway stations and supermarkets, talking to them and encouraging them to purchase $10 memberships to the party, so they could vote for him at the eventual nomination meeting. Naturally, he was successful, or neither the biography nor this post would have been conceived.

After the surprise of his winning of the nomination for the Papineau riding, he applied the same formula of hard street work to win the riding in two general elections. Although his father was not the sort of politician to enjoy on-the-street interactions, this became Justin's forte. In this, he was more like his grandfather politician, James Sinclair, from his mother's side of the family. He diligently worked the riding, day after day, month after month, for a year and a half until the first election and applied the same formula to the second. His success was opposite to the party's experience which was defeated in the first election and absolutely trounced in the second one.

Perhaps it was the Liberal Party's hard electoral times that enabled Justin Trudeau to vault into the leadership role as such a young politician, who is still in his very early forties and without vast political experience. However, his fresh vision and ability to engage youth and others in all sorts of roles, mostly volunteer roles, help him to ascend to this position.

He does not speak highly of Prime Minister Harper's and the Conservative Party's disposition to practice both an undemocratic and a divisive style of politics. Unlike his political opponents, however, he seems to be able to voice his concerns and differences without resorting to mudslinging and character assassination. Indeed, as you will see in the quotes below, he is very critical, but he doesn't stoop to underhanded, personal attacks. One hopes that he will continue to take the high ground when push comes to shove in the next general election, which could be called soon, but it will be difficult to continue to turn the other cheek as it were.

The title of his book, Common Ground, fundamentally reveals his view of Canada and how it should be governed. Despite this huge country's differences in geography, Trudeau, in his extensive travels, has discovered that the country's people hold very much in common, even from the typical French-speaking Quebecker to the prairie farmer. He desires a more inclusive government where the common person is seen, heard and considered.

He wishes to bring greater democracy to parliament with more open discussion and votes and wrote that "People feel the effects of democratic decline over time." Trudeau is pro economic growth that also benefits average Canadians, who have seen little or no real personal income growth in the past several decades. He believes that the economy can be developed in an environmentally friendly manner. He is pro immigration and also want to see improved conditions and opportunities for our first nations people.

Permit me to conclude my pithy review with a number of direct quotes. I have ended up including more than I had thought to, but I think it may be instructive to read some of his own words on various issues.

"The whole experience [of having his motion for the creation of a national policy for youth quashed] hardened my resolve to speak loudly and clearly for young people across the country. I would make sure that at least one strong, vocal politician was fighting for youth in Canada." (224)

"In my first years [as an MP] I was on the environment committee, and I later served on citizenship and immigration. On the former, all the government cared about was looking as if it cared about the environment, while doing the absolute minimum it could get away with. On the latter, it felt it had all the answers already, and anyone who disagreed with or corrected it must be a rabid opposition partisan." (224)

"Since the early 1890s ... we have always understood that immigration is essentially an economic policy ... The economic value of immigration has always been recognized. We wouldn't have much growth without it ... I think the current policy has lost sight of immigration's most critical role for Canada; it is a nation-building tool ... We should see the newly arrived as community builders and potential citizens, not just as employees."  (216-17)

"The predicament of First nations, and our willingness as non-Aboriginals to abide the abject poverty and injustice that afflict so many, is a great moral stain on Canada ... there are more than 1,1000 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. The government refuses to call an inquiry into the matter, and that is shameful." (235)

"What progress has been made has largely come through the courts, as First Nations people litigate the Charter ... This has to change. Canada's relationship with first peoples is definitional when it comes to our national character and is currently a practical obstacle holding our country back ... First Nations communities across Canada have a right to a fair and real chance of success. They cannot be an afterthought as we develop the resources on their land. (236)"

"I believe that Canadians want a national, non-ideological party that is connected to them and focused on them. One that is focused on the hopes and dreams they have for themselves, their families, their communities, and their country." (238)

"If I earn the privilege of serving as prime minister, I want to be judged by the quality of the arms I twist, all across Canada [emphasis mine], to actively serve our country." (244)

"These Conservatives [after finally winning a majority] are not interested in building on the common ground where we have always solved our toughest problems. Their approach is to exploit divisions rather than bridge them ... One you've divided people against one another ... so you can win an election, it's very hard to pull them back together to solve our shared problems." (254)

"Too many people were being left out and behind in Mr. Harper's vision. I said I believed that the Conservative government's basic flaw was its smallness, its meanness, its inability to relate or work with people who do not share its ideological predispositions." (from speaking to a committee of friends and colleagues while assessing whether he should run for the position of party leader, 258-59)

"I made it clear that I wanted to run a campaign focused on the future, not the past. I wanted to build a new kind of political movement by recruiting hundreds of thousands of people into the process ... We would build an inclusive, positive vision for the country, and have faith that Canadians would want to take part in it."  (also from the same talk as above to his friends and advisers, 264-65)

"I made it clear in my campaign that the Liberal Party needs to be a liberal party. By that I meant that the core values of liberalism — equality of economic opportunity and diversity of thought and belief, which I see as the building block of individual freedom, fairness, and social justice — ought to be the cornerstones of the Liberal Party and its policies. I said that we needed to be a party that stood up for the people's right to have a real and fair chance at success, regardless of whether they had been born rich or poor, where they came from, or what, if any, faith they professed. (281)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Focal Points and Leading Lines

Today, we look at two images to see the difference that a leading line can make. They are both made up of seven vertical shots merged into one photo in Photoshop. But this post is not about panoramas.

Both panos were taken from a boardwalk that I routinely traverse on my walkabouts. It's always interesting to peer into the swamp, for that's what it is and why there is a boardwalk over it.

The first (above) provided a very pleasant view in person, but the photo lacks something.

The second (below) is a much better shot IMO.

Why, when they're so similar?

For me, the reason is that the latter shot has a focal point of interest — the frozen stream. In the top photo, nothing in particular grabs my eye.

Also, the focal point becomes a disappearing leading line which draws the eye through the frame.

A more minor point is that the tree on the left and the stump on the right seem to provide some sort of natural frame.

So, although both views were pleasant enough to appreciate when I was there, the second photo has several elements that make it much better photographically (IMO): a focal point, a leading line, and bit of a frame to help focus the eye.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Snow on Tamarack

For those not from around here, the tamarack is a deciduous tree with needles: that is, it's a fir tree in style, but it loses it's leaves/needles like a deciduous tree.

I decided to take a close-up, which I won't actually call a macro because it's not that tight. First, I took the above shot with a small f8 aperture. The rule is: the smaller the aperture that you use, the greater the depth of field (or detail if you like) that you get in the photo. So, although they're fuzzy, we can see all of the branches in the background. The photo is too busy for my taste and not good at all.

So, then I opened the aperture to f2.8, which is quite wide, and took the next photo.

With less detail in the background (although even less would be better but that's all this lens could do) the branch of focus stands out much better. There is no question of what the focal point is. This photo just works much better than the first one. So, if you have a camera which allows you to control the aperture, go ahead and use it to your advantage.

Note 1: It seems confusing but the smaller the number of the aperture or f-stop, the larger the aperture. So, f2.8 is a much more open aperture than f16, foe example.

Note 2: Aperture controls DOF or Depth-of-Field. A large aperture (small f#) leads to a shallower DOF than a small aperture (large f#) which results in more of the photo being in sharp focus.

Note 3: DOF or depth-of-field can make or break a photo. The general rule is that you would like shallow DOF on a macro and a large DOF on a landscape photo where you normally want to see good detail from front to back. Of course, it's just a general rule — so perhaps I should call it a guideline.

Note 4: I did very little post processing on either photo. They are close to what one would see on the back of the camera.


By way of contrast (and having nothing to do with the point of this post), here is a tamarack from the same area, just a few days earlier. It's very pretty when the leaves turn yellow, especially because they hang on for quite awhile after the 'normal' deciduous trees are bare.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

First Snow

The snow has arrived. I am not sure if it will stay or not. Some years it does stay from the middle of November on through March and even into April. I hope this lot does go away for a little while because it makes the winter seem a little long when it comes and stays so early. The forecast is for another long, cold winter with that dratted Polar Vortex in place once again, so I am not too anxious to jump right into winter. Can't be colder and longer than last year though (he said hopefully with crossed fingers).

The good thing is that the paths were still walkable after only one snowfall, and a hobbled senior can get to spots that might prove difficult in another month or two. So, out I went with my camera to see what I could see.

And this is what I saw, or at least something close to what my camera saw since cameras don't necessarily see things the way that we do.

I liked this shot as soon as I saw it on the back of the camera. It didn't just have potential (as the shot in the previous post), but looked appealing to me right away.

However, on the monitor the RAW version lost quite a bit: the nice wintry blue cast for one thing. It was fairly easy to bring the blue back by cooling the white balance, and I also added a little more blueness in the shadows by using the split toning panel. This brought the image back closer to what I had seen on the camera.

I did some normal sharpening and some minor straightening and cropping, and increased the vibrance just a bit. I also adjusted the white and black points to boost the contrast, but once again, this was mostly to bring the RAW image back to what it should have been and not so much to alter it into my fanciful vision.

The one minor thing that I tried to improve, without great success, was to highlight the yellow bushes and trees. So I applied a little brightening via radial filters, but it really didn't do much and even looks a bit off. If I ever have another 'go' at this image, I will look at that effect again.

It seems like a lot of work when I write it out like this, but it really just involved moving a few sliders in Lightroom and didn't take more than a few minutes. It is one case where I preferred the camera's jpg version to the RAW version and worked to get the RAW image back closer to that.

The typical advantage of working with RAW data is that you make the decisions. When you shoot jpg images, the camera processes them as it sees fit, and then throws away so much good data that could be of use to 'the developer.' In this case, I had really liked what the camera had done (at least as I remembered what I had seen on the back), so I tried to process back toward that effect as opposed to the flat and dreary version I saw it when the RAW image initially came on the monitor.


In passing, permit me to insert a photo of the same pond from just three days prior. What a difference!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Reflection Under the Bridge

I took a stroll around our neighbourhood park on a cold, windy day with the intention of just shooting a lot of photos. The object for me was to 'work the scene' and see what if anything appealed to me when I got the photos on the monitor later.

It's not a large park, and there's not really that much of interest. Yes, there's a nice pond, but with houses on three sides, it's not all that easy to shoot: especially when things get bleak in November.

There were some Canada Geese on the far side of the pond, and I took a number of zooms, but they weren't very interesting. I walked a bit in the long, dried grasses at one end of the park but couldn't find a very interesting shot.

The sun was going in and out, but when it came out, I saw some interesting reflections under the little footbridge over a tiny dtich that leads to the nearby pond. I thought that I could try to work with it, but it needed some tender care in post, as most photos do — especially if your shoot in RAW although I sometimes get decent results SOOC (straight out of the camera) even in RAW.

In analyzing the photo, I found five main things that I would like to change: numbered below.

1. This is to be the focal point. I think I need to brighten the reflection a bit and perhaps tone down the bright leaves on the bank — just even out the two parts of the focus a little. This could done in Lightroom: my goto photo editor. Some photos just require a little tweak or two in LR, but this would require more work.

2. This area above the line is extraneous to the photo, and even pulls the eye away from the focal point. I am going to crop it away. Also easily accomplished in LR.

3. The eye is always drawn to the brightest part of the image, so I would like to darken hilites like this one a little. Another job easily done in LR.

4. If I don't crop away this section, I need to do something with it. What I eventually decided to do in Photoshop, was to extend the wooden rail using the Clone (or Stamp) tool.

5. The boards are very unintersting. I was able to find a texture in Perfect Effects that made them better to my eyes.

Although I don't write down my steps as I go, that's more or less what I did, and the result is below.

You can be in a beautiful area at a beautiful time of day, and the photo is just lying there awaiting your snap. But sometimes, you are just carrying your camera around and experimenting. You get an image that's okay-ish but with potential to be better, and this is what happened that day. It's still not a WOW! image by any means, and I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't print it, but I find it pleasing enough.


Some of you requested seeing the original image to the previous post, and I have since added it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Replacing Danica's Head

Well over a month ago, I signed off for a short while with Thanksgiving plus a weekend on the road coming up after TG. That was then, and once the ship was righted, and I was back on an even keel, I found that I didn't want to return to my blog. Still don't really.

But, a few kindly souls have been emailing to wonder about my whereabouts, so I am dropping in to thank them for their concern and to let the world in general know that all is fine here. It's just that, I don't know what I want to do with this little space on the interwebby thingie. So, I'll will probably revert to dithering some more after posting this. In the meantime I will, however, make the supreme sacrifice of paying you all at least one little visit.

I have been pondering a couple of directions for this blog. One of them is to post just a single photo every now and then and 'talk' about it a bit. I won't get into my other idea right now.

However, to try out the photo notion, here's one that I didn't take; Sue did, but I processed it, and the steps are still somewhat fresh in my mind.

Danica wanted a snuggle the other night after she and Mom stopped over for supper. Sue had her camera nearby, so she hopped up to snap a few photos. Of the group of shots that she grabbed, we had a decent one of her and the same for me. The problem was that they were on different images.

So, I decided to use the good one of me as the base photo and to replace her head from the other picture. This is what I did — more or less anyway since I am going from memory.

  1. Before trying to merge the two images, I adjusted the White (ie Light) Balance in each. Sue had used a flash, but the ambient lighting was tungsten (as you can see), and the mixed lighting came out oddly. It still isn't perfect by any means, but it is better than it was.
  2. I sent both images from Lightroom to Photoshop as two layers in one file and had the program align the two layers. PS lined up walls and railings quite well, but people move, and her two faces (in the two layers) still needed some manual nudging to line up.
  3. Aligning the photos left some odd white space around the edges, so it was time to crop. I crop a lot in post processing. Unless the photographer is in a perfect position with the perfect lens and gets the shot perfectly straight, the majority of photos can do with subsequent cropping in post. I used to think that having to crop in post was a failure, and perhaps it is, but it is also reality, and it no longer bothers me to do it.
  4. I then masked out the whole top layer — the one with her good face (this one) — and painted just her face back in exactly over top of the poorer version of Danica.

  5. Replacing the face worked well, so I just had a few final steps to finish it off. First: in order to draw the eye, I used the iris blur filter in PS to slightly blur all but the area around our faces. Second:I added some vignetting (darkening) around the edges of the photo to continue to draw the eye to the important area.
  6. I almost forgot, but at some point in the process, I used the radial filter in Camera Raw to brighten both out faces, just a little.
It's still just a snapshot, but I enjoy taking an ordinary photo and making it just slightly better, and I am fairly well pleased with this result. Post processing in Photoshop or in any program will not turn an ordinary photo into a studio-quality shot, but it can bump it up a grade level, and that's what I think I accomplished in this case.


Edit: some people wished to see the original. The main thing was to replace her head, but while working on it, I did the other things mentioned above. It would have been a 'good enough' snapshot just replacing the head though.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Cottage Photos

I might as well take a few minutes to drop in to Blogland. We have been back from the cottage for almost a week, but what with unpacking, getting ready for company and then hosting said company, my thoughts have not been on posting. This won't change much for a few weeks as we first ready ourselves for Thanksgiving and then for another little trip: this time to visit family.

In the meantime, here are a few photos from our week in the country. I have so many that it's hard to know what to include and what to leave, but here we go.

We took the backroads to the cottage, but that was more than two weeks ago, and the colours were not very advanced. They came on quickly however, and were becoming quite wonderful within a few days.  We're not there any more, but I expect that autumn colour is already past its peak, or nearly so.

The above shot was taken very near the property along Glen Alda Road.

Below: a photo from a few days earlier of rapids on Eel's Creek, near Apsley. I used both an ND filter plus a small aperture to slow the shutter down enough to achieve the silky water effect. The foliage on the other side was quite splendid.

Here are a few photos from around the cottage property, both taken in the morning. Above: we had several foggy mornings and I wandered happily snapping many pictures. This is one that I liked with the logs in the foreground and the path leading our eyes into the frame. Below: near the end of our stay, we had a very fine sunrise. This was a somewhat lazy shot, taken almost from the back door. It's not sharp, but I sometimes prefer less than tack sharp photos.

There is a photogenic old barn on the property, and the way Brian mows the walking paths creates nice lines and colours. On this morning, the sun was just peaking over the trees. I stopped the lens down to create a sunburst effect. It's nice to play with this kind of effect every now and then.

Above: the same structure at night. I wanted to experiment with star photos but I included the barn for foreground interest. The light that you see emanates from the streetlight, just inside the entrance to the property way across the fields from the barn. The reach of this one light surprises me.

Another building on the property is the former planer mill which Brian has converted into a screened in structure, which gets us out of the elements and away from the multitudes of insects. I have taken many daytime photos, but here a nighttime exposures with lots of starry sky. You may or may not be able to see the path of two planes just over the treetops in this downsized version; you can click for a slightly larger view but not that much larger.

We sat inside the mill last Sunday afternoon; this was part of the view.

Leaves were falling in the whispering breezes, so I stepped outside the door to take a short video. I handheld somewhat shakily but you can begin to hear the whispering of the wind in the trees along with crickets and some background human chatter.

Finally, although I could go on and on, here is a photo of Brian toasting a marshmallow around the campfire. I think it was well toasted. Would you believe flame broiled?

So ... I guess that's it for a few more weeks. I hope you are all enjoying autumn in good health. Happy upcoming Thanksgiving to any Canadians who happen to stop by.