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Old Feb 27, 2011, 10:35 PM   #1
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Default Another Miscellaneous Photo Thread

I haven't been traveling or doing anything of note, but I've been playing around with taking pictures recently as well as trying some new plug-ins. So here's some of my miscellaneous pictures.

I've been playing around with black and white this weekend, and plan on doing more, sometimes you can get interesting effects. I like how this one came out:

Original color:

This was taken in January at Death Valley - I hadn't quite gotten around to doing anything about it (or a number of others) until this weekend.

On another note, some more recent pictures. My life is always filled with contrasts. A picture taken this weekend near where I live:

Compared to a picture I took near my office at lunchtime last week:

I'm not completely happy with the selective saturation here. It was done in Nik Silver Efex and while I might have been able to clean it up better with some extra work in Nik's plug-in, I think I could have done better using layers in Photoshop. And while the bee is more prominent in the version above, I think the color version is better.

I like abstract pictures, though I find them difficult. Here's one from a short walk around the block yesterday:

Compared to one from a lunchtime walk around the block at work last week:

This morning's morning sun peaking through pinon pines as seen through my upstairs window:

Or a flowering plant at a botanical garden from last week:

I've also been using some of my miscellaneous accessories recently. The flowering plant above was taken using my under-$15.00 impulsive purchase, a small folding reflector with a golden side.

After getting very frustrated trying to decide if there is something wrong with my 12-24 or if I'm the problem, I put the lens aside and decided to try to figure out a bit about using a flash. I'm very clueless on how to properly use one and I'm always getting weird results because I don't know what I'm doing. I now have a bit better idea of what's going on, after playing around with an external flash both on and off the camera, using direct light, reflected light (hint - don't bounce a flash off of a ceiling that's tongue and groove wood, the color tint is awful). I thought this one came out nicely.

Another lesson learned - a camera doesn't like to focus on yellow roses when the ambient lighting is tungsten colored. Contrast Detect AF gave up while Phase Detect AF locked onto something somewhere, just not the rose.

A couple of other topics:

Wildlife, sort-of. The squirrels in the botanical gardens are very tame. This one had lost a lot of hair on its tail - I never realized how small the structure really is:

Street Scene. While I often take lots of street scene pictures, it's not a topic I'm comfortable with and 95% are ones I toss away. But for some reason, I like this picture:

That's about all I've been doing recently. It's actually been a relief to put aside the 12-24 and use other lenses, to help me find my lost confidence. And I learned something about flash, a still mystifying topic to me.

Any comments, suggestions for improvement for these is always appreciated.
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Old Feb 27, 2011, 11:45 PM   #2
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Great series of images. I especially like the story you have with each one.

As far as any criticism, I have none for any of your images. They are all well done to the subject of each.

thanks for sharing them with us.
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Old Feb 28, 2011, 12:09 AM   #3
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Number one is outstanding.
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Old Feb 28, 2011, 4:39 AM   #4
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Great set, really like the "morning's morning sun peaking through ..."


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Old Feb 28, 2011, 5:45 AM   #5
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A great array of images with some hard work & thought behind each.

Great work on the first B&W - really brings out the composition well!
Bee on flowers doesn't work quite so well - not enough contrast (to my eye - or maybe it's just this old monitor...), and still some pink left on petals close to the bee.
Sun through snowy pines - very dramatic and great color!
Great use of reflector and of flash on the two flowers.
Squirrel really nice angle and amazing detail!

Thanks for sharing this fine & very diverse series!!
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Old Feb 28, 2011, 10:29 AM   #6
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Thanks for the compliments, Eddie, Paul and Ronny.

I wasn't sure whether the light flare (lens or window, could have been either) was a distraction or attraction. I thought it looked appropriate, especially for a window shot.

Mole - I agree with you about the selective saturation on the bee. The picture I posted was more an experiment with how Silver Efex works than anything else and it took me only a couple of seconds to do (something to bear in mind, it was very easy and fast to do) but to really be accurate would take quite a bit more work. When I realized just how much, I think I'd rather do something like this by desaturating the whole picture with Silver Efex, then taking that and a color version of the picture into photoshop, put the two versions as layers on top of one another, then use Topaz Lab's ReMask (or Photoshop's quick selection tool) to select just the bee on the color version and create a layer mask. While that would be more work than what I did here, it would give you a better result, and using layer masks means that you can change it if it's not quite right the first time. I love using layer masks because you can always change them easily.

The only thing about the reflector - I find it very difficult to use one without a tripod while taking pictures of flowers. The day I was taking pictures in the botanical garden (the cherry tree was really spectacular that day) I didn't have it and sure missed it.

I want to continue using flash more, so that I can really get a handle on how to use it effectively. Reading about lighting/flash in a book is useful, but I've found it doesn't replace practice, as it never quite works the way I think it should. It's really quite useful when done right, and awful when done wrong.

The squirrel was easy to take - there were some shaved nuts in the salad I bought. This one was sharing my bench before I got the camera out. I had to put the nuts on the ground in order to get him far enough away to take his picture. And while the picture works reasonably well, you can tell I was looking more at his tail than I was trying to focus correctly on his face - it's just beyond the sharpest focus. The picture was taken with the DA*50-135 (most of these pictures were), which works really well with the K5.
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Old Mar 1, 2011, 8:40 PM   #7
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A very nice series of images. I love #1, the B&W. It has the feel of an Ansel Adams image. The abstract snow on the chain link fence is excellent, as is the sun peeking through the pine branches.
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Old Mar 1, 2011, 9:51 PM   #8
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I wondered if anyone else would remark about an Ansel Adams feel to it - that's the first thing I thought when I saw the conversion. It was actually done in Nik's Color Efex - the first preset is b&w conversion and it is set up to produce a very high contrast, rather dark picture which worked perfectly with this sunrise picture. When I first played around with a couple of Nik's plug-ins on a trial basis, I thought Color Efex was very nice but didn't know when I would use it. Now that I bought it, I'm finding it more useful than I had expected, though I still don't really know how to best utilize its many features.
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Old Mar 1, 2011, 10:42 PM   #9
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Yes I agree # 1 is outstanding and I also thought of Ansel Adam's work when I looked at it.

All the pix are excellent. You have quite a photographic eye, Mtngal.
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Old Mar 2, 2011, 6:49 AM   #10
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Great set of photos,Mtngrl!..Especially love the first one and also the bee one. You should be very proud!!
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