Under The Bridge And Golden

Shot from the Route 41 bridge in Fort Myers, Florida. No idea what the real bridge name is but I do know the road name so going with that.

This was shot a couple years ago. It was meant to be HDR when I was just learning about it. So I had 7 images to stack which would have introduced so much noise that it wasn’t worth the effort. The image being published is just a single image. It’s amazing what you can learn in a few years.

I mentioned yesterday why I keep going back to my archives. It’s nice to look at an image you passed on to see what you can do with it. Knowing full well I can do way more in Photoshop than I ever did before I could edit this image. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good looking sunset image. Low hanging fruit of the photographic world. Ranks up there with animal photos.

The one thing I do with every image now is load my camera defaults. I have camera profiles for all my images. This helps me work off a consistent base image knowing that the color and distortion has been corrected for me already. This means I can quickly set the white balance and move on. For sunsets you want daylight or cloudy. It will be correct 98% of the time for a white balance.

When I got to Photoshop I knew this was going to be low key image. So I made my curves adjustment until the sun became the focus of the image. Then I just dodged and burned the various bits of the bridge to get it to where I wanted it.

The image felt it was missing something so I loaded up Intensify CK. Found a preset I was happy with, mainly focused on the water and then brought that into Photoshop. Masked that bit in and called it a day.



Where The Falls Begin

This is the first view of Great Falls you see from the Maryland side. You walk out to an overlook that allows you to see the river where it turns into the falls.

This week may be heavy on the water theme. I’ll see how I feel when I load up the rest of the images I have edit. Having the luxury of sitting on a large back catalogue I can jump around with my images.

My mother who reads everyday and some others I know asked me why I don’t edit images immediately. The fact is I don’t want to be emotionally attached to them. It’s not like I’m in love with these things. It’s just that when you take an image you have this vision in your head of what that image should look like. When you dump it to the computer and look it’s not at all what you envisioned in your head.

With letting images sit for a bit you lost that memory of what you expected the image to be. You aren’t attached to it. It’s just another image the same as any other. You look at it and figure out what you can do with it.

I have found that I will edit images that I just can look at objectively. Is it an interesting image. Light good. In focus. The usual stuff. There is no disappointment because I have moved past the moment.

When I went to edit this one I wanted it to feel expansive which is why I cropped it the way I did. The mouth of the falls is very wide. So I wanted it to convey that feeling. Once the crop was in it was time to add the curves to add the contrast. So did that and it was time for dodging and burning.

Having edited a lot of these images before getting to this one I discovered that water really likes a midtone dodge versus a highlight because it would blow out the whites quickly. I also dodges the rocks to bring back some of the features in them. Then when I was happy I felt it was missing something. So loaded it into Intensify CK and picked a preset.

Back into Photoshop I masked in the new layer with different opacities. The goal was keeping your attention on the water and rocks. I then lower opacity for the other areas. It keeps the look the same but it doesn’t draw attention to it.

Finally I have started to do my white balance in Camera Raw once I am done. I get much finer control over the final image. So once that was done it was hit save.


Where The Falls Begin

Golden Idols

This was taken at Wat Nong Yai in Thailand. The same place as Stupa Steps was taken. These two were tucked under a small awning providing shade near the stupa.

For the uninitiated the statue on the right is Buddha. The one on the left is Ch’i-t’zu who was a Chinese monk. It gets complex and if you want to read about it follow this link.

In Thai Buddhism you will see all sorts of stuff mixed in. It’s not at all like the Tibetan Buddhism that most people seem to know. In Thai Buddhism you will see Hindu gods, animist beliefs, and spiritualism all mixed in. You get used to it after a bit and it seems to work for the average Thai person. Personally I think it makes things interesting.

It’s fairly obvious that this is a HDR image. Just blended three images together and went with the outcome. I did bring down the tones a bit in this one as it was a bit too nuclear with the golds. Still, with these type of images the HDR works best when it’s bold and bright. Buddhist temples in Thailand are a treat for the senses with all the decoration and gold.

With the conversion to HDR finished I went to work in Photoshop. Mainly around doing local dodge and burn adjustments. You sometimes have to play with various areas to get features to work. Once I had that it was save and call it a day.



Masts As Tall As Buildings

This image has driven me nuts since I shot it last year. There were multiple technical issues with it that I could not overcome. Throw in the weird angle and my obsession because I liked it made me work on it till I got it right. That and I was feeling masochistic.

The image was taken at the Navy Pier in Chicago. I have no idea what the boat is called but I just liked the masts of the boat rising up. I could only get the weird angle because of all the people but it worked with the masts. It also gave me the idea for the title.

My issue with the image was that it was underexposed big time. Every frame was this way. While I could bring up the exposure I would blow out the highlights and cause other problems. Finally I just kept working at it until I got something useful. Used a lot of gradients to keep various areas from blowing out. I also didn’t fight it if things clipped to black.

Editing wise, once I got the image set in Lightroom it was into Photoshop. I did a lot of local adjustments with dodging and burning. I still wasn’t fully happy with the final image. Loaded the image into Intensify CK and just hit a preset. It did wonders and brought everything to life. Once I had it back in Photoshop I didn’t even layer mask it in. Was happy with the way it looked and called it done.


Boat at Navy Pier Chicago

Stupa Steps

This is another from Thailand I never published. Unlike others, this one makes a glorious HDR so I’m going with it!

This image is from Wat Nong Yai which using my craptasitc Thai translates to Younger Big Temple. Nong means younger and yai means big. Thai being a tonal language I’m totally guessing since translation into English doesn’t always work cleanly unless you hear the words or can read Thai. My limited understanding means I miss tones a lot and I can’t read a word of Thai to save my life.

The story how I found this temple is interesting. I was at a local tourist trap that I’m not recommending. I could see a giant Buddha statue in the distance. So when I finished I headed that way. If you have been following long enough I have mentioned my awful sense of direction. So I was cutting down side streets looking for the temple entrance. On my second wrong turn I came into a vacant lot. I was immediately set on by a pack of dogs. Stray dogs in packs or solo are pretty common. Most are indifferent but you do get the occasional aggressive one.

Seeing how I didn’t want to get mauled to death I quickly gunned the bike and took off. The bad part was I was on a dirt path. This caused me to lose control of the bike and crash. Luckily the crash caused the dogs to panic as they weren’t sure what happened. I jumped to my feet, picked the bike up and hit the throttle to get the hell out of there. The minute the bike was moving the dogs were chasing me again until I hit the main road.

I was a bit shaken up but not horribly so. I continued my mission to find the temple. A temple being a community space would also be a nice place to check for damage on both me and the bike.

Found the correct turn and pulled into the temple. I had some scrapes on me and the bike from hitting the ground. Nothing serious. So got my gear and off for a wander on the grounds.

When I went to edit this I knew it was going to be HDR. Buildings and indoor stuff does well with HDR. So I ran the images through Aurora and just picked a preset. It looked good and I was happy. No need to start adding layers. Brought it into Photoshop and did some straightening (why I didn’t publish it before). Burned a bit here and there and called it done.



Silhouettes On The Gulf

Still feeling inspired to go through and look at the images I never published. This one is from Thailand. I was on the beach shooting out onto the Gulf of Thailand. While technically not silhouettes the title fits.

This image was shot for HDR using my Sony A7R and an adapted 24-200 Tokina lens. Since I have had time to let the images sit I can tell you the lens had more than a few issues with it. It tended to do some weird chromatic aberrations. It also wasn’t the sharpen lens in the world either. Not saying my $1000 Sony FE 24-240 is either but it’s a lot sharper than the Tokina. When you are lazy and don’t like changing lenses you take the trade off and usually with landscape stuff you aren’t out for sharpness. The human mind is wonderful for filling in details so you can get away with it.

When I went to edit I didn’t even bother with the HDR. The entire series I shot was dark. Not sure if it was me or the camera but the images coming out are just too dark. In fact, I used the +2 exposure to make this image. I just brought the exposure down to get the image to where I wanted it. Then into Photoshop for heavy lifting. I spent a ton of time cleaning dust bunnies off the image. Part of this was my own laziness on not cleaning my lens and part of this was shooting on a beach. So if you see a dust bunny it was my fault.

Once in Photoshop I put the crop in. I wanted a panoramic feel. I then put in a curve to add contrast. Then only a wee bit of dodging to lighting stuff up in specific areas. The image felt cooler than I wanted so into Color Efex and just added a quick filter. Got the light to where I wanted it and called it done.


Gulf of Thailand.

Steps To The Buddha

This is an old one that I was really saving to publish to Instagram. I have been out shooting most of the day so I’m a wee bit too tired to edit. Plus when this goes live it’s a holiday here in America so took advantage of it by photographing most of the long weekend.

The stairs with the naga guarding the them leading to the Buddha is at Wat Phra Yai. It was the first Buddhist temple I ever went to. Waitress at the guesthouse I was staying at took me and my friend up there. We had no idea where we were going. We rode in the back of a song tow (pickup with bench seats in the bed).  We both thought we were miles from nowhere when we arrive. We walked around the temple and my friend and I were mystified when our guide was making offerings to the various other statues at the wat (temple).

Having been to Thailand more times than I can count I know a lot more than I did that time. Now I usually take a ride up to the temple which is all of about 10 minutes away with traffic. It’s usually crowded with tourists because it has a great view of the Gulf of Thailand. It’s not that great of a temple all things considered but I still hold a spot for it because it was the first one for me.

Editing I wanted to bump up the naga that guard the stairs to Buddha. So I did my usual edits and brought it into Intensify CK and played around. Masked in those bits and called it done. Might have overcooked it looking at it now but being tired after shooting and hiking I’m going with what I got.


Steps to the Buddha

Canal Reflection

This is another from the unpublished archives. I shot this on one of the small canals at a regional park in Fort Myers, Florida.

One of the reasons I have been going back into the archives and not publishing my more recent stuff is because I take a Photoshop class. Well, I watch videos. It’s Ming Thein’s weekly Photoshop Workshop. After watching it I just want to go through and look for an image I never published. This leads me down to all the other images I never published for one reason or another. So I will edit a few applying what I learned. Sometimes I throw in a little whatever. It’s mainly Ming’s workflow for all my base images then I channel my inner Trey Ratcliff and go off in a weird direction. Having met Trey I can tell you he’s just like he appears in his videos.

Editing wise it’s fairly standard. I didn’t mask anything in. The image would not have held up. It was shot I believe on a Panasonic G5. While I loved micro 4/3 I much prefer the latitude I get off a full frame sensor.

Once I had the image where I wanted it I put in a curves adjustment in Photoshop then local adjustments with dodge and burn. Mainly to bring out the reflection of the boat and clouds on the water.


Canal Reflection

Alamo Tree

This tree is outside the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. It’s from the archives and had remained unpublished for many reasons.

I was staying not too far away at the time so walked over to see the Alamo. The building that Ozzy Osbourne did not urinate on. I say that because it turns out Ozzy was so intoxicated on many things he could not have gotten in. He urinated on the statue outside of the Alamo which is where this picture was taken (see the connection?).

I have sat on this picture for a few years now. I shot it for HDR and had 7 exposures and no real clear idea what the hell I was doing in HDR. Now I know 7 exposures way too much. It creates too many artifacts and it turns an image into mushy mess.

With time and knowledge I went ahead and picked the normal exposure image. I went and did some perspective correction and then loaded my camera profile in. I really can’t tell you how much a proper camera profile is worth. It fixes a lot of stuff quickly.

Once I had the image fixed it was time for editing. I did a quick curves adjustment and then local dodging and burning. I wanted the tree to be more lifelike. So a quick load into Intensify and I picked a preset. Once happy back into Photoshop. I debated on masking in the more intense part but was happy so I left it as is.


Alamo Tree

Flowers For Valentine’s Day – Part Two

I’ll finish up the set of flowers for Valentine’s Day. Normally I like to break these things up but my schedule has been hectic and these are already edited and ready to go so I’m going with it.

This set is actually when I first started to shoot the US Botanic Garden Conservatory. When I bring stuff into Photoshop it goes from the last photo I brought in to the first. So I work backwards. I was too lazy to sequence them yesterday since it was a quick upload. In the end it works out as these are the ones I really struggled with getting the camera tuned in and the flash to work.

Editing wise nothing special. Usual local adjustments with dodge and burn. Put the tone curve in to add contrast and done.