Friday, May 18, 2012

Picture of the Day

FINISHED MASTERPIECE:  In Snapseed I tweaked the Sharpness and Structure to give the picture a nice crisp appearance.  Next, I adjusted the Ambience, Saturation, Contrast and Brightness so that the image was bright, colorful and vibrant.  Next, I imported the picture in to Photoshop Express and adjusted the Sharpness again, but slightly, so that the picture did not appear over-edited.  And finally, I took out all of the color via Saturation.  I mention this because Photoshop has an adjustment in which I could just click on an icon and it converts it to Black and White, however this feature makes the picture appear a bit darker and blurrier than I care for - by simply removing all of the color via Saturation, the picture has a much better overall appearance.  I lied, that was not the final step - I had one final step:  I added a tint to the picture.  I love the light bluish green color on this, as it works well with the Italian modeled moped.  If I had used any other tint - red, yellow, blue or purple, the picture would not work as well as it does, but for some reason, bluish green works perfectly on this picture of a moped in the rain.

ORIGINAL:  A nice looking moped caught in a rare rainstorm in Austin.  The setting of a moped casting a reflection in a water puddle was perfect, but what to do with the image - how could I make it look better?  Should I make it bright and colorful, or dark and mysterious?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fredrico the Fly

Original:  A typical photography excursion - I go out armed with my sweet iPhone4S, take hundreds of pictures of whatever seems remotely interesting, and come home with a phone that is hot to the touch and barely has any battery power left.  Above is a typical picture - while taking countless pictures of flowers with my macro Olloclip lens, I stop at the basketball court on the way home and spy a tiny little fly.  Naturally this captures my attention because I want to see how small of an object I can capture with my sweet macro Olloclip.  Unfortunately for this fly, he was not having a very good day.  How sad.  Anyhow, he was not wanting to fly, and seemed to be, um, having issues.  That's okay for me though - he was still long enough for me to take about 2 dozen pictures.  Why so many?  Good question - when shooting with a macro lens it is almost impossible to tell if you are taking a good picture at the time, so take lots of pictures to make good use of your time.  My rule of thumb is: Always take several pictures and hope one turns out the most perfect.  Not perfect, just "the most" perfect. 
Final Masterpiece:  Wow, this looks pretty cool!  This is what a tiny little fly looks like on a concrete basketball court as the sun sets.  As you can see, I needed to jazz up the picture quite a bit to get the desired results.  That's okay - I have 10 minutes to spare, my iPad, and some really cool apps.  First, I cropped the pic so that the fly was as big as possible.  Next, I sharpened the picture, but not so much that it developed that goofy "over-sharp" look.  Then I tweaked the Brightness, Ambience, Saturation, Contrast, and added a little more Sharpness.  After that it was time to run it through the Noise Reduction cycle.  This is actually a real challenge, as too much washes out all the nice detail, and not enough makes it too grainy.  But the finished results look pretty cool - a nice iridescent shimmer on the wings, and all the delicate features and hairs are accentuated on my little fly friend.

***Editor's Note:  I am so sad - my little fly friend passed away.  :-(  Did you know that flies typically only live up to 14 days?  I think I may have taken this picture on day 13-3/4.
RIP Fredrico the fly.

When the world takes notice

     Time to restate previously stated information.  In the radio business they call it “reset the table.”  In Jimmy’s World, he refers to it as “reset the table.”  Jimmy’s World seems to be very similar to the radio business.  
     But I digress.
Original:  Normally a picture that is this blurry and lacking detail or interest would find the delete button quickly.  But not with me.
     What is Instagram?  Instagram is essentially Facebook for photographers.  And it does not matter how good of a photographer you are - if you are a teenage girl and like taking pictures of your fingernails or if you are a serious photographer and go to a lot of effort creating your shots, then Instagram has a place for you.
Finished Picture:  How to make something out of nothing.  Looks a little bit abstract and a little bit plant life - I don't know... I kinda like it and it works for me.
     Now, what you do with niche within Instagram is up to you.  Are you trying to grow a business selling your photography?  If so, Instagram is a great avenue to do so that did not exist just a year or two ago.  It is a way for anyone in the world to see your work, and the hard part is to figure out how to steer people towards it.
     Why is this important to you and your budding photography business?  Because I recently came across a posting by one of my fellow Instagrammers, and she remarked how the Huffington Post had featured her in an article with the headline, “19 Instagram Photographers that we can not get enough of.”  Or something to that effect.  But the point of this is that this photographer was just minding her own business, taking nice pictures and posting them for the world to see, and then out of the blue, the world took notice and overnight her fanbase soared.  If she had a gallery of her work on, then the world could have also gone to her gallery to purchase her work.  If she had a blog, then the world could have also gone to her blog and she could have made mad money through the advertising on her blog.  The point is, is that as a photographer trying to grow their business, you need to find an avenue that works best for you, or several avenues, and it may take time before you start seeing any tangible results, but if you just keep producing the best work you are capable of, eventually you will find success.  Eventually, the world will notice your work.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Taking pictures on a whim.

ORIGINAL:  Just a quick snap of billowing flags taken on a whim because they looked pretty and I was having a nice day.  I took about 8 pictures, because I wanted to get both flags as unfurled and flat as possible, and also because I knew it would take several shots til I got one I liked.  The resulting picture looked nice, but nothing exciting to look at.  Flags are difficult subjects to shoot as they move constantly and you just have to take a lot of pictures til you get one good one, plus, you do not have a good angle to shoot them since you have to look up and the flags turn out so small.  One way to fix the size of the flags - crop them to enlarge them.

EDITED PICTURE:  The original needed some work to make it somewhat interesting, so I straightened the picture, cropped it so I could have the nice puffy cloud in the frame, and adjusted the ambience and saturation.  It looked much better, but since the blue looked so pretty, I decided to brighten the pic to give it a unique look - who ever sees a sky this color of blue?  The resulting picture looked nice, but lacked something - not sure what.  I know - why does everything have to be in focus?  I fixed this by putting only the flags in focus, and everything else out of focus just enough so that your eyes are drawn to the flags.  A nice finishing touch.

FINISHED MASTERPIECE:  All of the editing created enough grain in the picture to make several loaves of bread (see middle picture) so I took the picture in to Photoshop Express on my beloved iPhone.  I ran it thru Noise Reduction until I removed a lot of the noise, but not so much that it gave the picture a slick look.  So I ended up with a pretty picture I took on a whim of two flags billowing in the breeze, both unfurled at just the right point, straightened, cropped, a puffy white cloud and a beautiful color of blue.  And how was your day?  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pictures of the Day.

Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, Texas:  The original was under-exposed due to it being rainy at the time.  I corrected this using an HDR app, and though I over-processed it, like every pic on this page, it is a learning process.  Ideally I would have gone to the limits with the ambiance, saturation and detail, and then dialed it back a little, but I failed to do that on these pics.  Live and learn.

Downtown Austin, Texas:  A nice shot using my Olloclip wide angle lens one morning.  I have had my Olloclip for a week now, and all the shots on this page have been taken this week while I am trying to get the hang of using the lenses.  The wide angle is fun to use when taking pics of buildings and objects that will be affected by the lens wanting to curve the straight edges.

Flower Bud:  What a neat shot.  The actual bud is smaller than a pea, but with my Macro lens I was able to really zoom in on it.  The neat thing about a macro lens is that it gives you the opportunity to look in on a world you would never otherwise see.  

Little Debbie:  How can anyone disparage cute Little Debbie and her snack cakes?  What's up with that?  Another under-exposed original that got a bit over-processed, but there is a learning curve in all this stuff and I still like the shot.  SH either likes Little Debbie or hates her.  Why the hate?

Downtown Austin, Texas:  This came out a little overworked in my photo app, but it was a dark shot (I shot in to the sun) and because of that I over-processed it.  It is a nice shot though.  A good ad for Bulwark Exterminating Company.  Remember, if you have scorpions, call Bulwark.  Or drive around downtown and try to find them (the choice is yours).

Normal iPhone4S Lens vs. Wide Angle Lens

Normal Lens:  A standard shot (untouched) from my beloved iPhone4S, facing towards the sun.  The background is underexposed and the trees barely fit in to the frame.

Olloclip Wide Angle Lens:  Same exact shot as above (still untouched) standing in the same spot, however this time the wide angle lens is able to capture more light, all of the trees, plus the parking lot.  The shot above only caught two trees, but the shot below caught three, and almost five.  Notice how the trees towards the outside of the frame start to curve inward.  Also, notice how there is more depth to the image, and how everything seems more distant.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy Monday!

  Pretty blue skies and puffy white clouds are ideal picture taking opportunities, and I tried not to let this opportunity go to waste.  I caught this scene with my new olloclip wide angle lens.  I love how the wide angle lens distorts, but the distortion does not work for every scene, hence the need to have a variety of lenses.  What would otherwise be an uninteresting picture is made interesting by the lens distortion curving the buildings and making things appear smaller and farther away.  The beautiful blue Texas sky is accented with puffy white clouds and the sun peaking out from behind a cloud.  The colors are brought out via Snapseed and Photoshop, then tamed down just enough to where the picture is still bright and colorful, but not over the top - too much of a good thing can be bad.  The noise is brought under control just enough to where there is still grain and detail, but not so much that things look slick.  Enjoy your Monday!