Photo assignment 2.3.9 (Landscape)
“Arizona Rain Event” (Edited in Lightroom)
Value in the assignment:
Landscape and sunset shots involving light play are paramount to time properly. Ansel Adams was a master of this and way more patient than me. But I did work on this one for a while. At first the rain dump was the best and then the second rainbow came in –-wow. I also thought that I wanted to get it with my 200mm to get rid of the houses in the way (I knew if I drove toward the scene it would disappear before I got there). The 200mm was way too close. The 55mm was even too close, wound up going to the 18mm and getting the dramatic clouds directly overhead too which wound up emphasizing the rainbows and the rain dump even more.
“Arizona Monsoon” (Edited in Snapseed)
Cropped to get rid of the backyard. Then… the two photo side by side are the same photo taken with the DSLR but edited in different application: Snapseed and Lightroom. Yes, Snapseed works with presets and maybe you’d call that cheating but the options are amazingly adjustable. Snapseed is better than any other smart phone editing app and I’ve tried every free one. In this case what worked better was the drama filter. I was able to get more definition from the clouds rather than in Lightroom (working without presets) where I had to work with exposure, contrast, the blue temperature and a magenta tint to get somewhat close to what I did with the drama setting in Snapseed. They both have vignette masks (the best filter that ever happened to photography, and I think the first!). Snapseed was able to give me this great frame (again adjustable) which accentuated the bizarre acacia bush branches in the corners and the cloud drama at the fringes, it just all came together.
The value for me in this editing job is that I should not apologize for my use of Snapseed over Lightroom. I began this class with that same question–Should I switch over to using Lightroom? After working with both, I have decided not to. Snapseed is the app that works for me. And I just found a user guide so I’m going to advance another level—watch out world!
How does the photo meet the assignment?
We could do anything we had not done yet and I’ve been open to connecting what the universe would send me as a subject and putting it with the right technique. That rainbow was a gift and landscape drama was the technique.
Photo assignment 2.3.8, macro photography
Value in the assignment:
I typically do macro shots, this is what most of my photographs are—closely shot plants. But I wanted to work on the lens length in relation to the f/stop fuzzing out the background. This shot was the 55 mm at f/4. I also took some shots at 200mm at f/5.6—the background was completely fuzzed out and the depth of field was so short that I could not get the barely ½ in ball-shaped flower in focus so that was too tight. I liked the 55 mm better because I got the leaf shape too which is important in identifying plants.
This is when I got really mad at Lightroom—it kept auto”enhancing” my photos. Do you know how to turn that off? I added some half-stop exposure adjustments while shooting and Lightroom demolished the differences. MS Photo Gallery also auto”corrects” (should be called auto-abominations) –I found where to turn it off but it does it anyway. Ugh! Anyway, the editing was to readjust the exposure adjustments ½ stop under to make it a bit darker without having to do a vignette (the flower was bright enough). Also, I cropped to put the flower at the SE third corner which put the green/blue leaf in the NW third and the purple twig from SW to NW. nature is beautiful!
How does the photo meet the assignment?
I shot at ultra-close range focusing on one detail and getting rid of the background using a very short depth of field. I did not use a true macro lens, haven’t in years—I had one for my Minolta but it didn’t do much extra for me that I couldn’t do with a light telephoto.
Arizona has such great sunsets because of the dust particles in the air. When I lived in Florida, the sunsets were surprisingly mediocre–not enough dust.
Photo assignment 2.3.7
“Arizona Summer Sunset’
Value in the assignment:
I really looked for dramatic clouds for this assignment. I took this from the porch and came out several times over the course of an hour to get the right cloud configuration and base color.
I enhanced the color with temperature and tint to bring out the natural color—it’s not punk, there is a natural base to it! I also did a little cropping to get rid of the road and houses.
How does it meet the requirements?
It is a sunset picture and it is taken with my DSLR. I haven’t taken sunsets with my DSLR in a long time so I was concerned that it would not turn out. Also, now that I have worked with Lightroom for the month, I am frustrated with its limitations. I didn’t think it would be able to do a strong enough job on bringing out the sunset colors and producing the dramatic lighting to the clouds but it did! The HDR setting made the foreground show too much so I didn’t go that route.
I’m shooting through chain link to get these–the lens resting on the metal to peer inside the enclosure. Typically there’s a ghost of gray in each corner. The diagonal of the rhombus openings demands that there is no simple way to tilt the camera. As the animals are free to trot about, I require a horizontal or vertical move somewhat like a knight in chess rather than a bishop.
The gray fox and javelina are barely touched up–a little cropping, a little touch of color on the javelina to tone down the background.
“Javelina, not a ham for sure”
“Mountain Lion, actual closeness”
The cougar was leaning on the fence so I wanted to remove as much of it as possible. To do that an emphasize the eyes, I did the HDR setting along with heavy contrast/drama and then added sepia over the top of that. There’s actually a hard line of chain link in both lower corners but the healing filter on Snapseed removed most of that.
“Jaguar hybrid, canines removed”
Northrup says, “if you don’t have the eyes you don’t have the shot.” But I think this one turned out pretty cool anyway. I hit the whites and blacks to be whiter and blacker and added a strong vignetting mask to go along with the round shape of his head. This also reduced the chain link in the background.
I typically take portraits of gardens, not just in garden, of gardens. So doing a traditional portrait of people is a stretch for me, but it was the assignment. I think what I don’t like about shooting portraits is that most people think they look bad in pictures (I’m one of those, so I sympathize). The think of the final product so much that they are not relaxed and perhaps that adds to the tension and rigidity to the face. The trick is getting the subject to relax. On these particular assignments I worked with flash, which is also outside my comfort zone–I typically work with only natural light. After reading Northrup’s book, I decided to give it a try again.
Environmental Portrait (2.3.4) … the flash created a shadow that I didn’t like along the top lighting and hat combo–I could not get these healed in post. I added a bit of color to repair the damage from the florescent lights and reduced some of the background distractions by cropping in a little–the background is the placement so it’s important to have some.
“Animal Care Daily: Environmental Portrait”
And the portrait of two or more subjects indoors (2.3.5)… the important point here was to get two people who didn’t like getting their pictures taken to look natural. Again, having to use the flash to add light reduced my ability to shoot fast. To accentuate the casualness of the portrait, I added a heavy vintaged look with grain, sepia tone, and some wash out.
“Animal Care Daily: Casual Portrait”
It was afternoon, not quite the golden hour. A washed out sky that I would have to get rid of, a sun that, from its slow long tilt into evening was still high and illuminating all the pleats of the saguaros rather than giving them dramatic patterns. This flower faced that sun head on to welcome the bees. I tried other more dramatic angles but they didn’t work. It was the flower’s face front lit that screamed for attention. Front light hits the face, eliminating shadows. Think of what the bee sees. This is her dream.
“Facing the Sun”
Photo #2: 1-what editing was done?, 2-how did your photo meet the assignment?, and 3-what was the value of this assignment to you?
Editing consisted of getting rid of that washed out sky. But I wanted enough depth of field to know it was saguaro. I put the whites whiter, added some vibrancy, dropped the exposure down a little to bring out the different petals. Added a vignette to focus on the face. Though front lighting is often most associated with direct light, it is also associated with pointing the light at the face–the face of the flower was a perfect plane to that light–not quite top light, not quite side.
My photos of plants are not just pretty and they are not just for science. It is the connection where those two meet. This was the value of this assignment–knowing how the light affects the image, sure–the light perfectly illuminated that flower. But it is more than that. Of all the saguaro flowers I have tried to photograph (and I’ve got lots over the years), this one most exemplifies the story about saguaro flowers making the most of that sunlight. They have only one day to do it. Make it count.
That magical time zone as the sun dips into the horizon but before it actually sinks from view. The sun filters through the quartz dust specks painting the light with gold then pink then purple. As the light creeps down the Four Peaks and the McDowells there are windows of this magic only slightly capture-able before civil twilight.
We don’t hear much of dawn. Phoenix in the summer is a crepuscular city–activity begins before sunrise, slows with high noon, creeps back out again at dusk. But the dawn light can be just as magical, should we take the time from our rat race to be entranced by it.
It may take a bit to slow us down. Large white flowers just hitting their magnificence, for example. Once the sun is above Granite Mountain, the deal is off. Wait, and you lose gold.
Photo #3: 1-what editing was done?, 2-how did your photo meet the assignment?, and 3-what was the value of this assignment to you?
Cropping, first and foremost. Got rid of the fence line and most of the cactus itself to reduce distractions. I added warmth and saturation, added white to the petals. Looked great on my laptop and now on desktop it looks too golden. I also put bit of luminescence into it to accentuate that the golden light is coming from the back and side. This is what was different for me and value of the assignment. Rarely can I shoot at dawn–that’s my to go time, no time for dilly dallying with flowers. And back/side lighting is really tricky–I prefer going all back to do silhouette or all side for front lighting. I typically don’t do a mix, so that made it interesting for sure.