Tag Archives: photo

My beautiful butterfly

I love photography.  I really do.  I really really do, but i have found the last few months to be an unmotivated self critical self-depricating void.  In other words i haven’t  given myself the freedom or the space to create.  Consequently the other aspects of my life have suffered.  
Today i read an article on 500px.  I didnt really engage with the article and the suggestions were almost pointless (why im not sharing the link).  It did however remind me that i do actually want to take pictures.  My twitter feed was full of hundreds of worldphotographyday posts and i just happened on a scene with aome very dramatic lighting. 

My wife had cooked supper on the barbeque and left our window open.  Smoke filled our room and the setting sun cut a sharp beam through the swirling smoke.  At first i just took pictures of the “cool smoke”.  An amateur mistake forsure but then my daughter happened into my room with her mettalic winged butterfly.  She was excited to dance and play in the smoke and the sun reflected off the butterfly wings making a magical bright glow. 

Here is the result…

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Happy world photography day!

A critical eye

I am starting to wonder if it is my own sense of “not good enough” that has taken my joy of photography away.  My own critical eye sees only the imperfections when i go to share a picture i have taken with someone else.  I am afraid all of the “things i have done wrong” in lighting technique composition and post processing will be immediately  obvious to everone else. 
I have to admit I have trouble sharing my enjoyment of my photos with others.  Maybe it is the uncertainty of what i really like about it. 

Long story short  i am posting a picture i took of my daughter.  I like it for almost all of the reasons i don’t  like it, but i do like.  I really like it and i need to be ok with enjoying it rather than dumping on all the parts that i “should” have changed. 
My biggest critic is myself.  My greatest triumph os to continue to create even where i might have failed.  To discover how many more ways there are to tell a story in photography.

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2015 – An old favorite of mine.

I started going through my archives.  They begin in 2008 when I switched to digital.  I bought my d60 that day my first daughter was born and have shot over 25000 frames on 3 different cameras since. 
I have to say I still need to go back through my film shots too but looking back 6 years and a handful of months my photography has improved by miles. 

That being said I still captured aome great moments, memories and stories.  If you follow my 500px account you may recognize this old photo I dug out of my archives and post processed again.  Im sad to say I switched to shooting raw about 3 months after this was taken.  But the tools in photoshop still allow for huge adjustments to jpgs as well. 

You decide if you like this image better the original way or the new way

Link to original:
500px: https://500px.com/photo/18663955

The new version:

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December 2014 – frost and cheer

I am reminded again this year how wonderful and blessed I have been to grow up celebrating Christmas. Now, that’s not to cast shame on those who hold other traditions, but there is something joy-filled about this season that causes me to remember how good life is. For me and my family it means getting together (huge groups of us on both of my parents respective sides, and my wife’s family too) sharing the good times and the hard times, rejoicing in the season and in each other. It means trying to express our love for one another in gifts and words of encouragement. It means spending time together playing games, laughing and enjoying the outdoors. It means reading the Christmas story and watching our favorite Christmas movies (like Charlie Brown’s Christmas or The Muppet’s Christmas Carol). It means PEACE, LOVE, and JOY.

I am happy. That’s not a statement I make often, but I feel like, on this Christmas vacation, I have finally managed to relax and de-stress. I can actually enjoy the moment. Moments like the one captured below. The magical moment when the frost covered trees are lit brightly by the setting sun and the kids are laughing a playing in the snow. The freezing drizzle sparkling and shimmering in the yellow light. I wish I could bottle these moments.

I would love to tell you I have a plan for my final photo of 2014. I would love to say that photography no matter the season is #1, but the truth is, for me right now, it isn’t. Celebrating the birth of Jesus is more important than any picture – no matter how once in a lifetime. At least for now.

Merry Christmas all. And to all a good night….er good morning.

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No snow – Nov 2014

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Well November 2014 will go down in history for me.

I thought snow would be an easy target for a winter shoot especially here in November.  That didn’t quite work out so I decided to take it indoors with a “sno” globe

A little early christmas cheer for all of you.

I will document the post processing for you, but I’m already 9 days late.

Enjoy.

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October 24 – Explorations of high speed photography

I know I know there is nothing original about milk and high speed photography, but lets be honest our ideas and inspirations usually come from an extension of someone else’s ideas. When I see others peoples work I often find myself thinking “Pssssh , I could do that”. When I saw the photos at http://aurumlight.com/ (slightly NSFW), especially the series with the sword fighters, I realized – no, no I couldn’t. I was, however, very inspired.

My son spends a lot of time walking around the house yelling things like, “Dad look it’s “Pida man” or “Soup – e – man!” (He’s 2. Enough said.) He loves superheroes, and so do I.

I thought I can make a superhero. I’ll just use a lego man and try to get a highspeed photo of him “wearing a cape.” A milk cape that is! Well it turns out the only lego man I actually have in my house is a Vetruvious figure from the lego movie and he’s already a superhero that wears a long white robe, so not much to go with there. Unless I put another robe on him or something.

My son does have a few little tikes figures that he calls his “friends” and since they were readily available I thought I would give them a try.

After all they are little farmers and around here farmers are the closest things we have to superheroes…

After about 7000 failed attempts at getting anything awesome in camera I finally had enough source images to try and accomplish what I wanted through post.

Here are the two source shots I used.
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These two shots gave me the two building blocks to make the cape (the milk splash was a good shape and while totally in the wrong spot still entirely usable) and have a nice clear image of the figure.

First things first I correct the expose and tried to tone down the blown highlights.

Then I opened both images in seperate documents in photoshop.

I cut the man from one image and the large milk splash from the other.

I then created 3 new layers on the original image of the man. I had the background layer then the milk splash then the top layer was just the cut out of the farmer.

I then set to work with the layer masks to try and create a nicely defined edge on the cape as well as blend the man and cape to make sure that the right parts of the cape were behind the man and that some of it was in front of the parts of the man that would be covered had he actually been wearing a cape.

Then I used some blend as well as some simple brush strokes to try and perfect the lines.

I then selected all the foreground and any background parts of the image that were just clutter. I filled black over everything and left the stacked layers to create the depth without it looking like I had just cut and paste a picture from a magazine.

Using a brush with soft edges I carefully painted black over every remaining unwanted surface. I then made the edge of the brush more solid and lowered the opacity to create a bit of shadowing along the edge of the cape. Flattened the image and then rotated it and cropped it.

Here is what I got.
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You tell me what you think.

Oct 2014 – a bit of wedding fun!

My sister got married this weekend and my kids had the opportunity to be involved.  My son was a ring bearer and my daughters both flower girls. 

I did have a chance to shoot some photos and loved every minute of it. 

Here is one photo I thought I would share.

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Hope you like it.

Oct 2014 – 10 reasons I miss my dslr

Don’t worry.  I kept my dslr.  Both of them.  I’m not crazy, but this weekend I chose to leave them at home when I went on my trip to vancouver.

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I think my smartphone is capable of taking nice pictures.   Even good pictures.  Even great pictures but the creative control I have with a dslr is almost incomparable. 
So here it is, in no particular order, my top 10 reasons for hating my smartphone (or why I miss my dslr):
1.  Dof – I admit since I got my d800e I shoot at some pretty crazy fstop values mostly wide open but there are times when closing down and expanding the depth of field is required. 
2.  Lenses – interchangeable lenses and different focal lengths and distances are occassionally requirements of taking a picture.
3.  Dynamic range –  yes software and sensors in phone cameras have improved dramatically in the last 5 years but being able to bracket and having even wider dynamic range helps to bring out the natural range of the human eye. 
4.  Focus – I have a love hate relationship with autofocus and the speed of a smartphones autofocus is still a major delay in taking a picture.  Moments are fleeting and hard to find and a 1 to 2 second delay in shooting a frame can be costly.
5.  Focus again, a near lack of manual focus means getting soft focus or off axis focus exactly right is next to impossible on a smartphone.  Yes in post these issues can usually be resolved with good source but im a fan of getting it in camera when I can.
6.  Colorcast.  White balance, color cast and bit depth are all still very real problems with smartphones.   The sensors no matter how many improvements are still weaker in a smartphone then a dslr.
7.  Sharpness.  Smaller sensor less light  more software post processing and lower resolution only several reasons why the sharpness in smartphones is lacking.  Even from lens to lens and fstop to fstop the sharpness on a dslr can vary.  Imagine what dust fingerprints etc are doing to smartphone pictures.
8.  Iso.  No manual iso and much higher noise.  Smartphones just dont have the same options for controlling the exposure triangle.
9.  Shutter speed. On exactly the same note as iso it hurts the creative control you have.  When was the last time you changed shutter speed on your smartphone.  Now I get it.  There are apps that will do this but with 3 buttons I can change shutter iso and fstop in beautiful harmony. 
10.  Lack of raw support.  My workflow is so happily integrated with lightroom and developing photos from RAW that the results are obviously hurt by not having raw files. 

Long story short I’m not saying I won’t take pictures with a smartphone or all of them are garbage.  Im just saying given the option I still see the value in a dslr. 

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Overall not a bad set of shots but would still have liked to go that much further. 

Anyway this month I will be attempting a high speed photo with the theme superhero. 
I am hoping to capture a lego man with a cape of liquid frozen in time.

Wish me luck!

Sept 2014 – lemonade

So I did it.  I think

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I think it turned out.  Not exactly what I thought it would be like but im actually kind of happy with it. 

Here are 2 originals

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As you can see recomposing and including more of the bandshell would contribute to the visual appear. 

I tried to save the dull gray light but only ended up making things worse. 

Attempt 1

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Kind of dreamy but unnatural.

And try 2

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A bit better but missing the punch of having actually shot with real sunset light. 

I didn’t do much to the black and white image for post processing.  

I simply opened it twice in photoshop from raw.  The first time to get the highlights and white crisp and the second to get the dark sky nice and tonal. 

I then blended the two images with layer masks and trimmed a bit.  I adjusted the lens correction and used a couple approaches to try and accentuate the height of the model primarily making the image narrower in the horizontal. 

Finally I converted to black and white carefully balancing the blues and cyans for the trailing fabric and then sharpened. 

Overall I kind of like the black and white image.  What do you think? 

Would selective color work for this image?  Is that overdone?

What do you think of the other post processing attempts overdone?

Any suggestions of things I missed in post production.

Sept 2014 – shoot day

Well today is supposed to be shoot day.  Im not sure I have a model confirmed and the weather (thunderstorms in september?) Is not cooperating. 
Assuming as always things find a way of working out I should be taking some pretty cool pcitures today. 
Yesterday I unfolded the cloth that I will be using and the sheer fabric may introduce more miore than I expected…also in certain light it looks purple so some color hrading is going to be essential. 

My batteries are charged my bad is loaded my memory card is clear I’m ready to go. 

I am going to try and make a strip lighy out of two prungles cans.  The idea came from another website (popphoto.com)  and I think it is a great fit for my shoot today. 

Now hopefully I can confirm a time…