Holding Up

Regular visitors to this blog may already know that our house was a major renovation project – which is why its working title is ‘Brokedown Palace’.

The first job our builders had to do was to stop the front wall from falling off. Eventually they worked their way round to the back, where they just had to stop it falling down.

construction3

Fortunately, they managed that too:

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Construction

Before & After: Butterfly

Butterflies can make for great images, but they’re not the most co-operative of subjects: have you ever tried to get one to sign a model release form?

Last summer I spent a merry, if sometimes frustrating, couple of hours on a sunny afternoon trying to get some worthwhile photographs of the butterflies that were feasting on one of our buddleias. Obviously, I was using my longest lens, but as that\s only 200mm I couldn’t get as close as I might have wished.

Before

Butterfly before

As it stands, this isn’t much of a photograph but there was the germ of something more interesting in there, although it needed a fair bit of post-processing to tease it out.

After

Butterfly after

The first step was to crop out most of the background. Once I’d focused in on the butterfly it seemed clear that rotating the image would make it more arresting and give a more pleasing composition. I also flipped it so that the butterfly was facing upwards.

After that, it was a matter of adjusting various sliders to give more ‘punch’ not only to the overall image but also the individual colours, where I altered Luminance rather than Hue. A final touch of Sharpening and there you have it.

ABFriday 12 February 2016

Before & After: St Mary’s Church, Beverley

ABFriday 29 January 2016

Another ecclesiastical subject this week. However, this time it’s an interior – of the nave and high altar of St Mary’s church in Beverley. A lot of people are aware that Beverley has a Minster (basically, a cathedral without a bishop) and you could be forgiven for assuming that this was it, given its monumental scale and rich decoration. However, it’s ‘just’ a Parish Church.

Before

Nave before

This photograph looks down the main aisle of the church to the altar beyond the rood screen. Apart from the fact that it’s a bit wonky, it displays one of the most common ‘technical’ problems with photographing church interiors: the external light source, particularly when shining through a stained glass window.

After

Nave after

The first thing – as ever – was to straighten and crop the image. The pews at the bottom of the original weren’t bringing much to the party and the columns on each side provided sufficient in the way of leading lines.

The bright sun shining through the windows high up on the right meant that some of the stonework of the columns on the left was blown out, while the ceiling between the two arches seen in the original was very dark. The latter I dealt with by the simple means of cropping it out (which also took care of the windows) and I applied a graduated filter effect on the left side of the image to claw back some of the detail that was lost in the original.

The second source of bright light was through the stained glass. I reduced the glare by moving the Highlights and Whites sliders all the way over to the left.

The image still had a ‘cold’ overall cast, so I boosted both Clarity and Vibrance, which gave a much warmer tone.

The key colours in the image are obviously blue, orange and yellow. Reducing the Luminance and boosting Saturation (a little) made these ‘pop’ a bit more as well as bringing out still further detail, especially in the painted ceiling.

 

Before & After: Cathedral of San Marco, Venice

Sometimes you can’t get exactly the shot you want and need to rely on post-processing to realise your original idea.

Before

SanMarcobefore

This was taken in Saint Mark’s Square in Venice and is of the side of the Cathedral. It’s always crowded there, so for every kind of reason it makes no sense to be packing a long zoom lens. I was interested in the detail of the recess in the centre of the image, but this was the closest that my 24-70mm zoom lens could get.

After

SanMarcoafter

The first actions to take were to straighten the image and crop out all distractions – notably the scaffolding. It also allowed for an aesthetically attractive symmetry in the final image.

As can be seen from the shadows in the original image, the sun was shining very brightly and it was close to noon, so the whole image looks ‘bleached’. Fiddling with the overall exposure didn’t produce any helpful results, but taking down the Highlights, Shadows and Whites sliders brought out a lot more subtle detail in the stonework and also had some positive impact on the colours.

However, I resorted to the individual colour adjustments to reach this final version. I boosted the Saturation of the three principal colours – orange, yellow and blue – but by trial and error I found that a greater impact was made by adjusting the Luminance – increasing orange and yellow, reducing blue.

ABFriday 22 January 2016

Before & After: Petra

Petra is arguably one of the most photographed places on Earth (right up there with Venice) and I’ve posted a number of the pictures I took there on this blog. And here’s another, which I’ve used for this latest exercise in ‘before and after’.

Before

Petra before

The original is a pretty bog-standatd shot of part of the famous al-Khazneh (Treasury) building which is the first thing you see when you enter Petra. As it stands it’s pretty ho-hum – the photo, not the Treasury – but I thought it might be possible to make something a little more arresting with some post-processing.

After

Petra after

The first thing to do was straighten the image. After that, I cropped out the grey rock on the left, to focus on the juxtaposition of the angular and circular features (which I thought contrasted well with each other).

The original image seemed to me to be a little over-exposed, so I adjusted for that in the whole image. A particular problem area was the dome on top of the circular feature. I brought out some additional detail in that by adding a graduated filter on the right hand side of the image – an innovation for me: I knew Lightroom offered such a thing but had never worked out how to use it. I got it eventually through trial and error.

After that, it was simply a matter of adding some Punch and Sharpening to give the image a bit more ‘presence’. Overall, I think the editing has made for an improvement.

ABFriday 15 January 2016

One Photo Focus: January 2016

For the January One Photo Focus we were given this image by Laura Macky of Laura Macky Photography

January One Photo Focus copy

It’s an excellent photograph as it stands: a well-composed image of an interesting subject. There seemed little to be gained from tweaking details like saturation; that would be more likely to detract than to enhance. So I decided to take just a part of the whole and turn it into something different.

The angle at which the boat is beached provided some interesting diagonals in the superstructure, so I cropped tightly into the subject itself. Although I like the colours in the original, I felt that it would also work well in black and white. A bit of work on the sliders brought out more detail in the peeling paintwork, giving it a more ‘weatherbeaten’ look.

Edited

January One Photo Focus