Posted on October 15, 2019
A very interesting challenge from Frank this week. He invites us to go to our back catalog(ue) and take a new look at an old image – probably something we could all benefit from doing more often.
This is part of the exterior of a hotel on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The original – reproduced in the smaller photo below – is pretty ho-hum: no doubt why I’ve never done anything with it. However, after some cropping and ‘popping’ in Lightroom post-processing it becomes a more striking abstract geometric composition.
Posted on October 17, 2016
This is posted in response to Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge Lesson #24: Black & White Post-Editing. As in Cee’s post, I have four original colour photographs, each also converted ‘as is’ to Black & White and then edited simply by shifting just one colour slider.
This mosaic picture graces one of the underpasses on the Corniche road in Abu Dhabi. The straight conversion doesn’t really do much more than drain the life from the image…
…but reducing the Luminescence of the Green channel to zero brings it back:
This – obviously – is a windsock, to be found at the airstrip just outside nearby Blond. Any interest the image has is largely in the strong diagonal composition rather than the colours, but nonetheless it provides a useful example for the purpose of this post.
There is, effectively only one channel to adjust – the Red one. Reducing the Luminance simply darkened the colour, increasing the contrast and showing up a lot of grain. However, increasing the Red Luminance gives a far more attractive image, I think:
The orange and yellow paint of this residential block in the old part of Dubai is far more striking than its ‘as is’ monochrome conversion.
Increasing Yellow Luminance is an improvement, though:
This purple wisteria hanging over a wall in Chédigny is an attractive shade of purple, providing a pleasing contrast with the stone background, which is lost in the straight conversion:
However, reducing the Luminance of the Purple channel gives the image much greater ‘presence’.
Posted on July 22, 2016
Flowers are one of my favourite subjects for macro photography, so I’ve decided to participate in the ‘Macro Moments’ challenge hosted by Susan Gutterman at Musin’ with Susan, as flowers are the topic for this week.
This is a close-up image of a chrysanthemum bloom taken at Monet’s Garden in Giverny, in Normandy. Apart from the spectacular colours, what I particularly like is the way that the individual petals can be seen to be folding back on themselves in a symmetrical pattern.
Nikon D800 with Nikon f2.8 24-70mm lens at 56mm. 1/180 at f8.0, ISO400. Cropped and edited in Lightroom.
Posted on June 6, 2016
The latest task in Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge is to guide the viewer: in other words, to compose your image so that the viewer focuses on what you want them to see within it, rather than be distracted or have their attention drawn away from what they ‘ought’ to be looking at.
The intended subject of this image, of a church interior in Rochechouart, is the decoration on the columns and walls on the left, but the eye can’t help but be drawn to the bright spot of the stained glass window on the right: so it has to go, leaving the focus of the image as it was intended:
The S Curve
A curved object in an image is almost always more interesting and attention-drawing than a straight line and, as Cee points out, it’s a common and perfectly respectable technique in pictures involving roads. Here are two images (the one on the right is a cropped version of the first) of light trails at the T-junction. Apart from eliminating the distractions of the vehicles stopped at the lights on the bottom left, the tighter crop’s curve also takes precedence in the eye over the otherwise intrusive angular traffic-light gantries.
Flipping The Horizon
Sometimes you take a photograph and it’s fine – except that you wish it could be the other way round – a mirror image. Of course, through the miracle of editing software it’s now very simple to get the image you want simply by flipping it. The two images below (taken just along the road on a sunny autumn day last year) are identical in every respect except that one is the mirror image of the other. Can you guess which was the original and – more to the point – which one do you prefer?
(Sometimes an image can also benefit from being flipped upside down, as I did recently in my contribution to the June One Photo Focus.)
Posted on June 3, 2016
The original image for this month’s One Photo Focus was taken by David Croker and is a lovely shot of peaceful serenity; who doesn’t like the combination of sky, water and reflections?
The only problem with this original is that the air of tranquility is jarred somewhat by the electricity pylons running right across the horizon. I realise that it’s possible to remove such intrusions through various photo editing programs,including Photoshop, which I have myself, but it looks like a very painstaking exercise, particularly if (a) you haven’t done it before and (b) when there are not only wires but also the pylons to be erased.
Then I recalled that for a WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge some time ago, with the theme of ‘Dreamy‘, I had used a reflected image to get the dreamlike look that the assignment called for, and I thought it had worked quite well.
Accordingly, I adopted the same principle for this One Photo Focus, to produce this:
Here’s what I did:
I’m quite pleased with the dreamy, painting-y effect of this revised version
Posted on March 4, 2016
This month’s One Photo Focus Challenge, provided by Nancy Merrill, had me thinking. Here is the original:
I felt that there were two possible approaches:
A matter of record
This first edit sees the image as a ‘record shot’ (absolutely no disparagement intended). Essentially, all this requires is a modicum of straightening and a sympathetic crop to highlight the sign and put it into some context – so here we can see the structure of the theatre and the fact that it is located in a green (or at least non-urban) area.
It looks like this theatre has been built along the lines of Shakespeare’s Globe in London (which I’ve been fortunate enough to attend for quite a few performances over the years). The key architectural characteristic is undoubtedly the black and white ‘mock-Tudor’ effect, which is a worthy subject in itself. Consequently, I cropped down to the bottom left quadrant of the original image, flipped it a quarter-turn clockwise, tweaked for sharpness and added a little grain and a vignette to produce this almost abstract interplay of light and shade, straight and diagonal lines.
Posted on February 19, 2016
I took this photograph of an upturned boat at Watson’s Bay, near Sydney. It was a bit of a snatched shot and while the subject is interesting, it’s a little frustrating because I didn’t capture the entire boat, cutting off the prow (at the bottom of the image) and the sides. Furthermore, the horizon (waterline) isn’t straight and the colours are rather bleached – partly because it’s a pretty weatherbeaten vessel in the first place and also because it was taken around noon – so I was probably on my way to lunch, which probably explains why it was a snatched shot.
I cropped out most of the boat, the shoreline and the surrounding sand, and also added a light Vignette. This brought the real interest, the bottom of the boat, and especially the ‘trident’ effect of the struts, properly to the fore.
This produced an almost abstract feel, which was reinforced largely by reducing the Luminance and modestly tweaking the Saturation of the key colours, blue and orange
Posted on February 12, 2016
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.
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.
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.
Posted on February 5, 2016
The original image for this month’s One Photo Focus challenge was provided by Stacy at lensaddiction and is what I’d call a bit of a tester.
There’s a lot going on in the original image and not all of it sits comfortably together (a sailing ship and modern high-rise buildings, for a start).
After a lot of thought, I decided to crop in on the rigging and, in particular, the two human figures, which I placed on a Rule-of-Thirds point.
Having looked at the blown-up image, I felt that there wasn’t enough detail in the figures to command much attention so I went for the opposite extreme and effectively turned them into silhouettes by taking down all the sliders – Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks – to -100.
This also made the background sky more interesting and to compound that effect I used a Graduated Filter at the top to reduce the exposure of this part of the image. This not only darkened the clouds but also reduced the ‘blown-out’ area where the sun sits. I think the final result is quite dramatic.
Posted on February 1, 2016
There aren’t many photographs I take that don’t go unedited – especially those that make their way onto this blog – and almost all of those begin with cropping (and straightening where necessary, of course). I agree with Cee very strongly on the importance of cropping: as she writes, it can make a mediocre photo good and a good one great.
(NB: The images in this post have only been cropped, with no other post-processing. In this way, it’s possible to isolate the impact of cropping alone from the overall editing process.)
This first image was taken from the observation lift that provides panoramic views over Sarlat. The roofs are interesting and colourful but (a) you don’t need to see all of them to get the picture, so to speak and (b) although it’s a medieval town that doesn’t mean that they don’t have access to modern technology. Like satellite dishes; lots of satellite dishes. The cropped version removes all but one (partially obscured) dish – which could be eliminated altogether with further editing, as well as cars, streetlights etc.
As another example of removing distractions, here’s a picture of a nice foxglove, which doesn’t really need the roofline behind it.
Cropping for Composition
Cropping can also be helpful in improving the composition of an image, as in this photograph of the distinctive seedpods of the ‘monnaie du pape’ (‘Honesty’) plant, which in the cropped version are placed on a ‘Rule-of-thirds’ intersection.
Finding a new image
Sometimes, close cropping can reveal a ‘new’ image nested inside the original that isn’t immediately obvious – as in this view from Oradour-sur-Glane.
Taking more than one picture
And finally, as per Cee’s advice always to take more than one photograph, here are two shots of a set of decanters and glasses from a museum in Sarlat. The second is not a crop of the first, but just a close-up: same subject, completely different image.