Sunday, April 17, 2016

52 Week Photo Challenge – Week 14: Landscape – Zoomed In

I am trying to catch up on the 52-week challenge, this week I went back to week 14. Week 14’s theme was a zoomed in landscape, instead of the usual great sweeping vista.  I may have miss interpreted this one and zoomed in a little too far for my images, by going almost macro for one and just focusing on a tree for another. 

I took both of these images around two in the afternoon; which means, I was shooting in harsh direct sunlight.  For these images, I used a Canon 70D with my 18-200mm lens (love that lens) with a 100 ISO.

The first image is of a purple clover like flower that likes to grow in patches.  To take this photo I got down on the ground, flipped out the LCD screen on the camera, and used lived view so I could position the camera how I wanted. Thus, I did not have to contort myself into awkward positions to use the viewfinder to frame the shot.   For this photo, my lens was set to 40mm, and I used an F4.5 aperture with a 1/320s shutter.   These settings gave me a very narrow depth of field.  As you can see from the original image, I cropped it to bring the viewers attention to the two clovers in focus and used the twigs as leading lines to the clovers.   For the final image, I used a custom white balance adjusted from the daylight setting, adjusted the exposure to darken the image, and increased both the clarity and vibrancy, while keeping a linear contrast curve.  I also adjusted the sharpness and luminance of the image.  And of course, I adjusted for lens aberration.  Finally, I added some light vignetting to the image to make the clovers pop in the finalized image. 


Original Image
Final Image

The second image is more of an accident, because I did not intend it to be for this challenge but as a representative shot of a location, to study for an upcoming photoshoot. However, after inspection of the image I felt that this image met the challenge a bit better than my almost macro shot above.   I feel this meets more of the challenge's theme because you can see the tree is indeed part of a large landscape even if that larger landscape is not immensely interesting on its own.  Since this was just supposed to be a test shot I was not worried about camera settings, but as full disclosure, I was at 18mm with an F5 aperture and a 1/160s shutter speed.  To process this image I used a custom white balance adjusted from the daylight setting, adjusted the exposure especially the shadows and black, increased both the clarity and vibrancy, while using a medium contrast curve.  I also adjusted the sharpness of the image. I then applied a preset filter to make the sky appear bluer and give the final image an HDR look and corrected for lens aberration.  Finally, I added some light vignetting to the image to the finalized image.


Original Image
Final Image

Overall, I am not overly happy with these images, especially the first image.  I am not happy with how it came out because it did not provide the depth or expanse of the clover coverage in that area.  While I did take photos as a higher angle to show more of the field, there was no central focal point to tie the image together or provide a point of interest.  In addition, I believe I was rushing myself since I had my dog, who was on a leash, with me.  I am surprised how the sample shots came out, because I really was not trying.  I only ever adjusted the camera for the fact I was in the shade and did not want the tree trunks to turn out all back, since that is what I wanted to study in the images.   Therefore, lesson learned is do not rush, and sometimes what you think are throwaway images will surprise you. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Disney Princes shoot at the Cloister

On March 26th, I attended a DC CosplayPhotography meet, held at the Cloister in Maryland. The Cloister is an old summer home based on several types of medieval architecture.  It was the perfect setting for the Disney Princess theme of the meet up.   This was a nice location because there were several different locations on the grounds from a spiral stone staircase, and outside stone garden, and a windmill. 

This shoot did allow the photographers to use more than just handheld equipment.  At the shoot, I used a Cannon 70D with an 18 - 200mm lens, an external 600EX-RT, and Yognou radio triggers.  The flash was mounted on a light stand with a 32-inch umbrella shoot through umbrella.  The only standard camera setting I used was an ISO of 400 for all the photos, but all other settings I modified based on the light of the location.   I will discuss three of my favorite shots from this meet up.

I considered this shot of Sara Cosplays doing Merida from Brave my number one shot from the shoot.  I placed her on the spiral staircase near the indoor window, looking toward the window.  I then placed my flash on the opposite side of the window to produce window light.  I was at F4.5, with a 1/320s shutter at a focal length of 18mm.  I pulled the photo into Lightroom and adjusted the white balance for flash, upped the exposure a little from the original image, used a strong contrast, then upped the clarity to 21, sharpened the image and increased the luminance to 37.  I also used a few presets to finalize the image to make it pop.  I am very happy with how this image turned out.


One of my other favorite shots is of Life of Cosplay doing Spring Elsa from the Frozen short.  I like this image mostly because it is subdued and contemplative.  I also like how the lighting on this shot turned out. In this room, there was a window to the left, which did not produce enough light, so I placed the flash there to bump up the window light.  I was at F4.5, with a 1/320s shutter at a focal length of 18mm. I pulled the photo into Lightroom and adjusted the white balance using a custom setting, decreased the exposure some, increased the clarity to 15 and the luminance to 15. I also added vignetting and used an HDR preset on the image.


Finally, there is the Xena Cosplay as Maleficent.  Several photographers shot this pose at once, because it was such a perfect location. My flash was set to the right of the cosplayer.   I was at F5, with a 1/200s shutter at a focal length of 20mm. In Lightroom, I adjusted the white balance, but did not touch the main exposure but did increase the clarity to 20, used a strong contrast and increased the sharpness to 46 and the luminance to 27.   I then used a few presets to pump the image, and added some vignetting to finalize the image.  

Usually, I am not a big fancy/extreme edit person; however, the Maleficent image seemed like the perfect image to play with.  So I found a fire image, which is actually a fire in a cupped fire pit and over laid it on the Maleficent image, using the lighten layer type with an opacity around 50 percent.  I then copied that layer and mirrored. I then flattened those two layers, did a bit of clean up using the eraser tool. Finally, I changed the color of the flames from red to an eerie green.   I like how this image came out and how the flames give it an extra pop. 

Overall, I am happy with how all the final images from the Disney Princess shoot came out.  You can see all the images from the shoot here. 

52 Week Photo Challenge – Week 15: Artistic - Metal


I am still behind on the 52 week challenge, however, I have decided to just pick up with the current week and continue on from there. Eventually, I will go back to the weeks I missed. This week’s challenge was an artistic metal shoot.  Initially, I wanted to do something rusty and falling apart, like you would find in a junk yard.  However, I do not know of any good junk yards, so I started looking around the apartment and settled on the vintage typewriter from the 1950’s.  I focused on the metal type hammers.  

To set up for this shoot was simple. I set the typewriter up on a white piece of mat board, and used a single flash mounted on a light stand with a boom arm so I could position it directly above the type hammers or angled to the of the type hammers.  On my camera, I used a radio trigger to trigger the flash and 60mm macro lens to focus on the hammers.  The camera settings were ISO 400 with an F22 aperture, a 1/250s shutter, and a flash power of 1/32.

The first photo shown is the original. The flash was positioned to the side of the typewriter hammers and set at 1/32 power.  The photo looks good out of camera; however, I tweaked it by cropping the photo to make it long and narrow. I then adjusted the white balance using auto in light room, then adjusted the exposure,  up the clarity to 32, used a strong contrast, and increased the sharpness to 70 and the luminance to 20. I also adjusted for lens aberration.  Finally, I converted the whole thing to black and white using one of my several presets.  This makes for a more dramatic final image.

Original
Final Image

The second image I only did minimal editing.  The settings for this photo were the same as for the previous photo.  The main difference is I changed my viewing angle to the type hammers.  For this image adjusted the white balance using auto in light room, then adjusted the exposure,  up the clarity to 32, used a strong contrast, and increased the sharpness to 70 and the luminance to 20. I also adjusted for lens aberration.  I then applied the HDR preset to the image, to produce the final image. 

Original

Final Image

Overall, I am very happy with how these images turned out.  I like the darkness of the images, because makes you focus on the letters on the hammers, also the images have a bit of an abstract look. You can see all the final images here