I tried something new (for me) on this shot. I set my Nikon D810 to a two second delay (tripod), to then to multiple exposure mode…10 exposures. The idea was to simulate what I’d get by using an ND filter to blur the water. I thought the effect was interesting. I didn’t get the same sort of blur I’d get with an ND filter, but rather more texture in the water…almost “bumpy”. The image was processed with NIK software to improve contrast (Pro Contrast filter), and add a Sunlight filter effect. Buy the way, the river really was yellow against the white snow due to minerals in the water. Click to enlarge.
What is that special quality in an image that makes the viewer look more than once? Why is it that some images demand more attention, while others don’t. Both may be beautiful, visually. Both may have an interesting subject, but the image that stands out goes beyond all that; it makes you feel something. It tells you a story about the subject. That story may or may not be exactly as intended by the photographer, but it’s there.
Whether we know it or not, if we work at our craft long enough, and take it seriously, we usually end up developing a certain “style” and set of favorite subjects. Certain subjects capture our imagination. We frame them in a certain way, and we process them in certain ways. What drives us is that inner need to tell the subject’s story, and tell our own story though that capture. We want to convey that feeling that drew us to take the image. When we get back home and begin processing the image we recrop, lighten and darken, and do our best to bring out that story.
Excellence in photography comes from being self-aware enough to understand this process of story telling. Think about your best images. What do they say? When you stop to capture an image, what is it about that subject that made you look? How can you capture that aspect of the image? When you process the image, what can you do to help the viewer see and feel what you saw and felt? To do less than that is to take “snapshots”; brainless, thoughtless, images with no feeling…no story.
Try this exercise. When you post and share your images, give them a name; not a name describing the subject, a name describing the story. Instead of naming a scene “Yosemite Valley”, name it something like “Where the earth meets the sky”. I know for myself, I love landscapes and have great awe and respect for nature’s majesty and power. I strive to have my images convey this quality. Give it a try…name your images.
I like Black and White images, especially street scenes with people. Too often when I travel I, like a lot of tourists, get so caught up in the beauty and novelty of what I am seeing that I forget to just take some regular street scenes that capture the essence of the place. These types of images make great black and white conversions for some reason (in my opinion, at least). These came from by recent trip to Europe.
The way I like to process most of my B&W images is to 1) Make them as good as I can in Lightroom, 2) bring them into Photoshop and run them through the Nik Color Effects Filter, applying either Detail Extractor, or Tonal Contrast…at this point the image doesn’t look real good in color, but I think the next step brings it back…3) Then I will Use Image/Adjustments/B&W in Photoshop. This gives me great control of the image because of the color sliders. Sometimes I’ll use Nik’s Silver Effect. 4) finally I will (sometimes) slightly reduce the opacity of the B&W layer to bring just a hint of the original color back into play. The heavy processing will frequently produce a noisy image in B&W that doesn’t hurt as badly as in color, but for noise reduction I like Nik Define
I’ve spent days editing pictures on my desktop after a recent trip. I love doing that. Tonight I’m just fooling around on my IPad with a couple of new apps I picked up when I read a FB post by Dewitt Jones…I blame him for the multitude of editing apps I’ve collected. Here is the final image out of Photoshop, then two versions of that same image run through, first Brushstroke, then Distressed FX. These apps can be a lot of fun.
Another image taken in Rothenburg and edited with Brushstroke.
From lousy weather, scaffolding, and dissappointment to something worthwhile. I travel a lot and enjoy taking pictures on the road. I don’t have the luxury of waiting for the perfect time of day, or weather, and it seems a standard joke that every time I get to some landmark location, there is almost certainly going to be scaffolding around my target. I take pictures anyways, and try to turn those dogs into something at home. This is a good example.
I was in Munich, Germany recently, and decided to get up early to beat the crowds. I made my way out to the Marienplatz on a dull looking morning, hoping for the best….didn’t get it. Scaffolding in front of the building, and some patches of blue peaking out around the clouds. The plaza was a little smaller than I remembered, and my wide angle lense (10-24, on a cropped sensor Nikon D7000), couldn’t capture the entire building without tilting the camera up considerably. As I said…take the picture anyways. I bracketed a number of shots to combate, what was now a bright sky behind the dark towers. The “before” image is one of those brackets, and illustrates well the leaning back building, due tot he camera tilt.
Considerable post processing, corrected the leaning building, worked the dynamic range issue, and got rid of the scaffolding. In order to fix the front main entry, partially hidden by scaffolding, I had to take a separate picture of it, and blend it into the final image, the hidden arches were copied from those on the right side, flipped horizontally, and paste/blended.
I’m including a few more heavily edited before-and-afters. I make no excuses for the heavy edits. I’m not a professional, don’t have someone paying me to stay and wait for the perfect moment. I get what I get, while I’m there. I do make an effort to get out early before crowds, or if I can, stay through the golden hour. Even with that, on occasion, such as the picture I took at 6am in a Munich square…the day way drizzly, and it must have been garbage day, since there were garbage containers everywhere!
Garbage day on the platz.. I straightened, removed the cans, and made the street look wet, as it was when I was there. Ok, I also turned on the street light, and made the window lights brighter. Getting rid of the cans here was actually tough.
People will always stand around…don’t blame them really, so this was all I could do. At times there were entire tour groups standing in front of me. I waited, and waited…and waited, then removed the stragglers in post. I did add a little sun beam coming from the top right…subtle, I didn’t want it to look ridiculous.
(Updated March 2017) I’ve always like the look of black and white images, but was never very “sure” if they were worth it. Recently I had someone buy a group of my images posted on Flickr, and surprise, they were all black and white! Surprise, because that sale told me someone else liked the black and white images enough to pay for them. I’ve therefore started to pay more attention to black and white.
I started by gathering most of my black and whites and posted them into a single Flickr gallery. Looking at them as a single gallery, I do like what I see. Black and White has a very different impact on the viewer. Not all of these images are worth bragging about, but as a collection, they are interested. Recently (March 2017), because of a local arts festival our Photoclub is participating in, I printed a number of images. Again, I was struck with the look of the black and whites. Printed on a “metallic” paper these images are beautiful. The blacks are rich, and white areas look almost like chrome. They are again, my favorites.
My technique for B&W entails quite a bit of processing. I’ll usually start by trying to extend the dynamic range of the original, using HDR if that does what I want, and increase the detail using something like Nik Color Effects. This ensures that the black and white takes on the dynamic range of the old silver halide films. I then convert to B&W, using either Nik Silver Effects, or Photoshop B&W conversion . I’ve also found that using the gradient mask adjustment in Photoshop can also create good black and whites. I do not use Lightroom for this step. Noise reduction comes into play as a final touch, since my harsh processing will usually result in an unacceptable level of noise. I have learned, especially by looking at printed results, that black and whites look best when you have areas of real pure black, and real pure white. That contrast and range make the images pop, as opposed to images that are primarily gray tones. I’ll occasionally give the black and whites a sepia tone, but printed, they look better and are more striking as black and white. Finally on some images I’ll overlay the black and white version on top of the colored version (layers in Photoshop) and slightly increase the transparency of the black and white layer to bring a very slight shade of color back to the image. Especially on old “grungy” shots, like old cars, or buildings, this looks great.
Rainy day. Planned to go out an exercise my photo muscles but didn’t work out. Bring up Photoshop and my iPhone and massacre some photos. Actually you can learn something by trying everything under the rainbow. With that software it’s also a good idea to use it and practice.