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.