The Motion of Old Indian

16 08 2012

A simple fun exercise is to play around with the settings on your camera and see what happens. The better educated you become, the more often “what happens” will be really cool. If you aren’t familiar with terms like “shutter speed” or “f/stop” a legend in the photography world wrote a post about it here.

Yeah, just kidding, that was my post.

A word to the wise. If you’re using a slideshow, the Word Press Reader Feature may not be teasing a potential follower with your beautiful photos.

Anyways, one fun thing to do is decreasing your “shutter speed.” This means instead of trying to freeze action, you are allowing anything that moves to become blurry. This isn’t a great idea with people or pets, but it can turn out pretty nifty if you’re shooting cars at dusk or running water like I was here.

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The gallery thing is something I haven’t tried before so let me know what you think of it. The trick to long exposures is knowing what to adjust. Shutter speed is a fraction (oh no, fractions!) So 1/2500th of a second is very fast. That means the shutter only stays open for that long. This doesn’t let much light in so you shoot at a reasonably low f/stop, I used 3.5. (again, if this is greek check out my tutorials on f/stop and exposure speed.) When I dial that down to 1/40th of a second and 1/10th, we start getting a lot of light. The image would have been completely whited out if I hadn’t decreased the aperture size to f/16. (I cheat a bit and let auto ISO do some of the work for me.)

What you end up with is a smooth and silky flow of water that you wouldn’t be able to visualize with the naked eye. This was my first go at this so the pictures aren’t incredible but it was a lot of fun to do. I fully intend to try a few follow up trips to play around with this more. In the meantime here’s a top ten list with some of the best I’ve ever seen.

Environmental Graffiti

I love to hear from you. Let me know what you liked and didn’t like in today’s post in the comment below. Thanks for stopping by and God Bless You!

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Cliche Tree

30 05 2012

A backlit shot of a tree is almost as cliche as a picture of railroad tracks leading off into the distance, that was actually my first post now that I think about it. :) While cliche it still has a unique beauty. A lot of things come together well to give it the impact it has, let’s take a look.

One of the most striking things about this picture for me is the gradient in the sky. The sun behind the tree blows out the color immediately around the tree so it slowly washes back to a rich blue at the top. This is a fairly straightforward example of back-lighting but it’s a great photographic tool with a whole spread of applications.

Coming in tighter on the tree and allowing some sun to slip through really changes the mood of this photograph. You can tell the image if being distorted a little bit as I get closer to the tree. Using a longer lens from a greater distance will solve this, there’s also a number of options in Photoshop. The concrete enclosure in the foreground jumps out a lot more in this picture than the last one. I also tend to notice the trees in the background a lot more. 

For the final shot of this set I got lower and focused on some interesting old odds and ends on the brick wall. Everything here looked like it had sat in the weather for years. I think the dark detail in the foreground gives a nice contrast to the overexposed sky in the background.

Thanks for stopping by the blog today! I’ve got a lot of pictures to go through so hopefully you’ll be seeing a load of content popping up all week. I hope everyone in the states had a relaxing Memorial Day weekend. Be sure to follow the blog and you’re more than welcome to click buttons down below to share with your friends. I love responding to your comments so please don’t forget to tell me what you thought of today’s post! Have a great day everyone and God Bless! -Arley





Hubcaps For Sale

27 05 2012

Maybe an obscure title like that will finally make me show up on the freshly pressed radar. :) I’m very tired and a box of hub caps happened to be in the first picture so it is mildly relevant. I’m trying something I have tried only on one other occasion, I am writing a post at 1AM and scheduling it to appear on the blog at a reasonable hour of the morning so it can greet you when you’re bright and ready for a new day instead of looking at cat pictures trying to fall asleep. This is from my shoot Friday which included the 3 crosses pictures.

I had to take a few pictures to get this shot the way I wanted. I have been cheating a bit lately. I have left my ISO set on auto so that I can do what I want with the f/stop and shutter speed then let the camera do the hard work. Fortunately, I haven’t lost my touch so the second frame here came out the way I wanted. The camera got a bit confused with the extreme lights and darks so I had to take over. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, the camera is very smart but it’s not particularly creative. If f/stop, shutter speed, and ISO are Greek to you, I have an excellent (if I do say so myself) blog post about it here.

This image is intentionally very dark. I didn’t want a lot of detail. I got just enough pattern from the table to make it interesting but this shot was a lot more about mood than content. It’s kind of similar to when you hear a song you like but you have no idea what it’s about. It’s fun to do this once in a while with your photographs; I think it makes the picture say a little less about your subject and a little more about yourself and your creative direction.

Of course it only took me a flat second to decide the detail here is so great, I wanted to take another shot to capture it. The great thing about old/rustic buildings is the imperfections. I love the visible knots in the wood. I wish more things today looked a little more like this and a little less like something off an assembly line. Functional but full of character.

I have a bit of a thing for doors. Especially if they’re barred up and locked. Even more so if the metal is rusty and the paint is peeling. The textures come together really nicely here and the brick pattern in the background does a lot to make this shot feel more structured. By that I mean a consistent pattern, whether subject or supporting element, makes a picture feel more organized and less random.

My favorite thing about using a shallow DoF (Depth of Field) is you can take something very plain, like this concrete barrier thing, and focus on the most interesting part of it to make the whole thing far more appealing than it would be if you could see all the boring details clearly. You’re mind kind of just assumes the whole thing is as cool as this little bit you see clearly.

Well, I’ve reached the point that I know I should wrap this up before I get an sleepier and say something dumb/goofy. I hope you enjoyed the pictures/narrative. Let me know what you think down south in the comments section. Social links for Facebook and Twitter are up north. If you aren’t following the blog you could miss out on new stuff so be sure to do that while you’re here if you enjoy what I’m sharing. I love getting mentioned. That notification that someone mentioned me in a blog post makes my whole day, I love it when you tell your friends about me.

Anyways, that’s it. I’m signing off. Have a great Memorial Day weekend if you’re in the US. To all my other amazing friends scattered across the globe, have a great Sunday. God Bless -Arley





Replacing Color For a New Mood (Photoshop)

25 05 2012

Today I will finally be doing another tutorial of sorts. This one is fairly specific to Photoshop but I’m sure there are ways to do it in many other software’s as well. If you are trying to decide if you need Photoshop, you probably don’t. There are much cheaper photo editing software’s you should start out with. The first time I opened PS I was completely lost. It took me many tutorials and failed experiments to learn my way around but it is well worth it. That being said, it is the most advanced photo editing software there is and it can do things nothing else can. If you’re a serious established photographer or if you have the money and are willing to spend some time learning it, go for it. I love it and I couldn’t imagine not having it. (Here’s an affiliate link so if you decide to buy it, you can support the blog when you do.)

One important thing to remember when you use any editor is that it’s not made to make a bad picture good. Sometimes you can use it to correct your own mistakes, but you really aren’t getting everything you should out of your hard work if you start with a crummy picture. The above picture was one of my favorites but I wanted to play around with it and see if I could make it something more.

Photoshop does a nifty trick called “Replace Color.” You can find it under Image>Adjustments. This will open a dialogue box where you can select the color, or colors you want to affect, then change their hue, saturation and brightness. Many effects in Photoshop can be attained at least two or three different ways. You can do this one manually with layer masking and selective color but this is the easiest way. I selected the blues in the sky and water, changed the hue slightly and pushed them darker to make the details pop.

Next I did the same thing with the wood but I pushed it very dark to give it an almost painted look.

This step was pretty tricky. I did a few things here. The trees looked a little neon so I used the brush tool with the darken color to get them a little more natural. The biggest step here was transforming the image so I could get a clean crop on it. I didn’t like the wood post on the left side But I couldn’t crop it out without losing part of the sign. I used the Free Transform>Perspective tool to drag the bottom of the image to the right and straighten the sign post, then I used the distort tool in the upper left to get enough image inside the rectangle for a good crop.

Finally, I realized the image was getting a little too dark so I adjusted the exposure slightly. I also spent a little more time taking care of the white spots in the wood that were bothering me. Overall, most of the changes were subtle and served only to enhance the original image.

I hope you enjoyed today’s tutorial. Feel free to re-blog if you think your readers would enjoy this. Please comment, I love hearing from all of you! Happy Friday everyone, have a great weekend!

 





The Mystery Lies Beneath The Surface

24 05 2012

Sometimes as I’m driving, something catches my eye. I stop and take a few snaps but it just isn’t what I thought it would be. One of the things I’ve learned through trial and error is that everything doesn’t naturally make a good picture. I’ve found out though, the worse that first picture is, the more I want to capture something closer to my vision.

Today I used something I haven’t used much since I started shootabout, my 17-35 lens. For those of you less in tune with how lenses are rated, this is basically a really wide lens. Wider lenses give a lot more distortion than a 50mm, one of my primary lenses for this blog. The reason for that is long and complicated but it basically deals with the perceived distance from the lens to the subject. If you’re using a wide angle lens, you’ll get much closer, as you get closer, the relative distance from you to the front of your subject vs the relative distance from you to the back of your subject is much larger than if you use a medium zoom lens. That’s why good portraits are shot with longer lenses. If the relative distance from you to the tip of your subjects nose is drastically closer than the relative distance from you to your subjects cheek, you can get a Pinocchio effect. If however you’re taking pictures of a building for instance, you can use this creatively.

That first shot didn’t turn out to be everything I hoped so I decided to try one from a bit closer focusing on one wall of the building. One of the most important things in photography, possibly the most important aside from light, is your perspective. Perspective is what makes you a photographer. Anyone can take a picture of anything. It’s how you take the picture that defines you. You won’t get it right the first time, don’t get discouraged, learn to move around and try a new angle to get what you want. Well, this still wasn’t quite doing it for me but I noticed something, there was a little gap between the wood door and the wall.

Turns out this old abandoned building has a torn up roof and a little forest growing inside. This I like. It’s a peek into a window to an entirely different side of this building. The building by itself is great but when you mix it with some mystery, then the picture starts communicating emotion. You see the door and the wall but you see something more lies within, something strange and unusual. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the door is stuck. I couldn’t see any more of what was inside this building. It’s a mystery. A world I may never get to explore, except with my imagination.

I hope you’re as curious as I am. Now that I have a taste of the mystery I may show back up with a ladder and try to get a few shots from above looking down. I suppose I should figure out who the building belongs to first though!

Stay tuned for more pictures tomorrow (hopefully.) I promise I’ll get a few more of those tutorials you keep asking about put together soon. Like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter if you want to keep up with what’s going on. Please comment, it’s the highlight of my day to read and respond to your feedback. If you think your followers would enjoy this or any other post on shootabout feel free to reblog me. Thanks for visiting and God Bless! -Arley





Rebirth

21 05 2012

To those of you who followed me closely until I dropped off the face of the earth a month and a half ago, but love me enough to show up again when they saw the new post email, I sincerely thank you for bearing with me. I offer no excuses and ask no forgiveness.

Me (left) and My Nieces and Nephews

The brief explanation I owe you is after having my wisdom teeth removed and my work schedule intensify with a huge shift of responsibility onto my shoulders, most of my evenings have been spent with my family, my church, or my bed. To my most devoted followers and friends, Mona, Mary, Andra, Victoria and others, thank you for continuing to share and inspire with your photography and writing. You all coaxed me out of hiding helped encourage me to pick up the camera after work and do what I love again. To those of you who are here for the first time, I assure you such a lull in content shall not be the norm moving forward and you are well welcome company in this circle of friends and photographers.

Today after work I started a load of laundry and decided an appropriate theme for my return from absence would be rebirth… My Junior year of high school, we found out parts of our building were “unsafe.” Over the course of a tumultuous weekend our community and neighboring schools came together  to create a portable school in our Award Winning Band’s practice field. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but we made it work.

Portable Row

Above is a look at the portable row today. It’s a nearly stifling environment, one teacher went so far to describe it as our camp of concentration. Naturally, I hate to look at the dismal grey rows of buildings so I found the part that caught my eye and did what I do best, I got in close :)

This was hanging outside one of the buildings. I really liked the contrast of green on the otherwise grey background. My f/stop was very low, f/1.4, so the sun and the sky gave me a nice white glow to fade into the deep blue sky in the upper left. I thought about playing with this in Photoshop for a while, but maybe I’ll do a tutorial on that in the next post. This is the image exactly as it came out of my camera.

I got my fill of the old site and moved over to the edge of the new construction. It’s been nearly 5 years since we moved into the practice field and the new building is finally a reality. Of course you can’t tell in the above image. :) I ran my f/stop up to a fast f/1.4 and my shutter speed up to a quick 1/8000th of a second to get the DoF (depth of field) and brightness I wanted in this. I love an artistic shot of nature in the midst of an urbanscape or a construction site.

The building is a lot closer than it looked isn’t it? With my f/stop down to f/16 we can see the new building a lot better but the plant is definitely still the hero of this shot. A few fluffy clouds in the background add a lot to this image but you probably didn’t notice them until I said something. Some elements of a photograph appeal to us more sub-consciously than consciously. The same is true in the advertising world (yes I’m on a Mad Men kick along with the rest of the young male in a desk job populace.)

Finally here’s a look at the front lawn of the new school. I definitely prefer sprinkler row over portable row.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a slightly more local peek into my photography experiences. I appreciate you visiting and hope I get to hear from you all. I live for your feedback so feel free to fill my comments section with your thoughts. I do my very best to respond to all of them. If you think your reader’s would enjoy this or any post you are always more than welcome to press me. Social links for FB and Twitter are around here somewhere. :)

God bless you all and have a wonderful week! -Arley





Saved by The Mel (Post Processing Tips)

5 03 2012

I would like to first apologize for the terrible pun in the title. I know it’s been a slow week here so I also apologize for the lack of content. I haven’t had a chance to go out and really do a decent shootabout and I didn’t want to resort to sharing something sub par. Fortunately I heard back from my friend Mel who agreed to write me a guest post. Fleeing years in a corporate environment Mel started a second career in photography by attending the Rocky Mountain School of Photography career training program. His greatest joy in photography is to turn his camera to the natural world and catch it in the act of doing something interesting, or entertaining, or simply profound. Still learning how to use the craft, he works in a variety of formats including 35mm, medium and large format, digital as well as film. One of his goals for this photography is the use of images in support of environmental education and action to result in common-sense solutions to living in our world. Although his favorite photographer quote is “Anything more than 500 yards from the car just isn’t photogenic” (Edward Weston) he continues hiking off into the woods to check its accuracy! Today Mel is sharing some awesome work he did post processing a few images. I know I have post processing fans in my readership as well as some staunchly opposed to editing any picture. I believe it has a place in photography and I agreed to share this because Mel seems to think of it much the way I do. Photoshop is not a band-aid for a bad picture.It’s more like a little bit of makeup to bring out the best in something that’s already great. In Mel’s case it’s a way to make the picture look more like what he saw and felt.

~~~

I’ve been playing around with photography for over 20 years and most of that time I didn’t really enjoy the results I was getting. Raised on years of National Geographic I couldn’t understand why my camera wasn’t turning out pictures of comparable quality, especially when it felt like I was following all the technical rules about focus and exposure. Frustrated, I was continually putting my camera on the shelf, then taking it down, then putting it back. Sadly, it was a case of literally ignoring what was right under my eyes. Yeah, I was reading all the “you can be a better photographer” books – I just wasn’t putting the advice into practice. So, it wasn’t long after buying my first digital DSLR I decided to get some instruction; you know, professional help. Maybe sharing that instant digital feedback with a pro would help me make changes in my habits right on the spot. Wow, what a revelation. The instructor brought home many of the lessons I should have learned before and showed me some new ones that helped bring it all together. “Ah-ha” moments every day. We spent a week in the field shooting and shooting and shooting until the lessons started to become habits. Happily, my camera hasn’t been back on the shelf since and I continue to learn how I see the world around me as well as how to share it successfully with others. One of the first lessons I learned was that all images need processing. The camera’s job is to accurately capture all the information you’ll need to translate the image into YOUR photograph; the rest of the effort has to come from your vision for the scene. For example, here’s a scene right out of my camera:
In my earlier days I would have looked at this image and complained, “that’s not what I saw!” because it looks so weak. Now I know the camera captured all the information I need to create the rich, detailed scene I saw when I pointed my lens in that direction. What attracted me to the scene was the idea of an image revealing the golden look of the sun on the water’s surface, showing off all the texture resulting from the little ripples. I also wanted the silhouette of the boats – no more detail than a dark outline. And I wanted just a hint of the mountains to use as a background frame but with enough contrast to show there are two ridges back there. The beauty of digital photography is you can make changes to the image in real-time and see what you’re getting. First I knew I wanted more contrast in the picture – make the blacks blacker and the whites whiter.
Making that adjustment meant more of the details in the water started showing through and the mountains in the background were more obvious. Next I wanted a richer look to the color, more like what I was seeing that morning.
Although that brought out more of the color it was my intent for the final image to have more vibrancy to it, something to catch the eye.
Now I had the overall feel and tone of the image I wanted but I really needed the eye to focus on the boats as they move across the water in front of the landscape. Most of that water in the foreground doesn’t really contribute to my vision for the image so I removed it.
Now I have the story I wanted to tell with this image along with the emotional sense I felt when I saw the scene. Another lesson I learned was portraying the drama found in a scene.

Read the rest of this entry »








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