Sunday, June 30, 2013

Print of the Week

(click to view larger)

Grass and its reflections in the water, taken from the beach at Anglin Lake about 9am on a cloudy gray morning. It's almost abstract, but the grass is realistic. I printed it 17" x 22" and it came out quite well.

The original didn't look much like this, and I would have probably ignored it, but something about it caught my eye and I played with it in Lightroom until I came up with this rather stark high key treatment which I really like.

Here's the original. It's more faithful to what it really looked like, but nowhere near as attractive (to me, anyway).

The main adjustments in Lightroom were:
  • Exposure: +1
  • Highlights: +100
  • Whites: +100
  • Blacks: -55
  • Clarity: +50
  • Tone Curve: Strong Contrast
I didn't quite succeed in turning the background completely white, but almost. I used the Spot Removal tool to get rid of some distracting bugs and dirt on the water.

I also tried it as black and white, which makes it more abstract, but I decided I liked the green.

Note: If you want to do this kind of post-processing you'll get much better results if you shoot RAW (rather than JPEG). This requires a camera that can shoot RAW (most consumer point-and-shoots don't) and it also often requires shooting in P(rogram) mode since A(uto) mode often only allows JPEG. (Both my Pentax K7 II and my Canon G12 are like this.) If you're shopping for a camera, looking for one that shoots RAW helps narrow down the abundance of choices and will usually mean you're getting something decent. On the downside, you then have to convert the RAW files to JPEGS to email or post to Facebook, etc. but that's pretty easy with most photo programs (e.g. iPhoto or Lightroom).

See also: other print posts

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saskatoon High Water

I thought I should take a few pictures to remember the record high water levels in the river:

Spadina north of Ravine Drive
Spadina north of Ravine Drive

Where did the weir go?
where did the weir go?

water under the bridge



Geese taking over the flooded trail
geese taking over the flooded trail

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

At the Lake

We recently spent a few days at Anglin Lake and area with my sisters. We saw lots of wildlife and of couse I took a bunch of photos - deer, elk, bears, beetles, flowers, and more. Enjoy!

(click to view photos)
Red fox

See also Shelley's blog post.

Photo Notes

I took about 700 photos in four days. I ended up sharing 64. Even excluding the few family ones, that's only slightly more selective than 1 in 10.

I spent about 6 hours selecting and adjusting. I didn't take my laptop with me, so I did all my editing when I got home. My process was to first go through them and put all the potential good ones into the Lightroom Quick Collection. Then I started inspecting, comparing, and adjusting.

This is the first big batch of photos I've done since recently upgrading to Lightroom 5. I'm still learning how to use the new tools like the radial filter and the healing brush. I think they'll prove useful.

As I've mentioned in other blog posts, I've been getting into the habit of pushing the ISO up to get a decent shutter speed and aperture. However, I ran into a few problems with this. Generally I'll push it to 800, but a few times I found that if I'd left it on Auto it would have used an even higher ISO - oops. What I really want is to raise the minimum to 800 but there's no quick way to do that. Maybe I should set up a User mode for that. I've also discovered, by comparing shots, that sometimes I'd get better results if I left the ISO lower. It's a learning process.

Another thing I was experimenting with was "shooting to the right", i.e. trying to get a histogram that is as far right as possible without clipping. I've been doing that by using an adjustment of + .5 or 1 stop. The idea is that there is more digital information on the right side of the histogram (brighter areas). But in practice, I'm not sure I got better results. One problem is that adjusting by +1 stop means losing 1 stop in shutter speed or aperture. The other problem is that it requires looking at the histogram for every shot which isn't always feasible. I don't argue with the theory, but for me the jury is still out.

Taking pictures of some of the birds, like the loons and especially the kingfisher, I was really wishing for a better telephoto lens. I hate the thought of the weight and size and having to change lenses, but I'd really like to capture them better.

I was playing with a few different techniques like panning with a slow shutter speed to get abstract shots. It's not my favorite technique but fun to experiment with. I also tried a few high key images with almost white backgrounds. I quite like the one of the grass in the water.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Why did the turtle cross the road?

Driving back from the Black Hills Shelley swerved to miss what she thought was a rock on the road. As she went by she realized it was a turtle. We were worried that it would get run over so we turned around and went back to "rescue" it.

By the time we got back to it, it had already made it to the shoulder. (These turtles can move quite quickly at times.)

Western painted turtle

Of course, I had to take photos!

Western painted turtle

From the top it looked quite similar to the red-eared sliders commonly kept as pets. But the underside is quite different and colorful and identifies it as a western painted turtle. These are semi-aquatic turtles that spend most of their time in the water or basking.

Western painted turtle

Hopefully picking it up didn't disturb it too much. I couldn't resist getting a better look.

In case you're waiting for an answer, I'm sorry but I don't know why she (guessing from the short claws) was crossing the road. The side she'd come from had a small pond, but I didn't see much water on the side she was heading for. It could have been to lay eggs.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

First Kayak of the Summer

We got out on the river with our kayaks this morning for the first time this summer. There were the usual suspects in attendance - pelicans, mallards, canada geese with babies, and a lone grebe.

(click to view photos)

Photographing from the kayak has pros and cons. You can sneak up on the birds easier than on foot and you have a nice low angle. On the other hand, you're always moving. Getting shots of the birds taking off and flying is always a challenge trying to pan and hoping the camera will focus fast enough and on the right thing. As usual, bumping up the ISO (e.g. to 800) helps get a fast enough shutter speed and more depth of focus.