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Old Apr 19, 2012, 12:51 AM   #1
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Default Week 6 of 52

Monday found me casting around a bit for a subject. I pulled out a couple of old friends. I havenít ridden in about 10 years, but I canít quite sell my old saddle. So I pulled it out for a subject. Then I pulled out my SMC 24mm f2.8 (too wide) and my SMC M 50mm f1.7 (just right), another couple of old friends I haven't used much since my K10 days (where stop-down metering didn't work well. It does very well with the K5 but I have added a number of other lenses and didn't bother with these). I know, the exif says 24mm but thatís because I forgot to change the focal length.

I wanted some dramatic lighting and thought I could get the directional light I wanted with my little LED flashlight. After 30 or 40 shots I gave up trying to get what I want with the flashlight and took one of the more evenly lit shots into CS6 beta. I played around with the lighting effects and the new color lookup adjustment layer. This is exactly the look I wanted to get. Love photoshop!



Tuesday was an easy day Ė as I got out of the car at home I noticed the light and this volunteer grass growing in the front yard.



Instead of walking about before work and at lunch, Iíve been watching videos about CS6. Iíve been picking up a number of tips not only of new things in CS6 but some things that arenít new but that I hadnít known about. Very cool stuff! But it means that I donít have a lot of time to take pictures. Wednesday found me at home after work trying to come up with an idea. I came up with two similar ones. This isnít the one I posted for the project, but I really like it.



I posted this one, Follow The Leader: http://mtngal.zenfolio.com/p487897818/ef9823da - Iím posting the link instead of the picture because there are just too many pictures I want to post. Iíd definitely be interested in what others think of the two pictures, and which one you prefer. Iíd like to re-take the one I posted but move the elephant train further away from the wall.

Thursday found me wanting to try out some of the features Iíve been learning about. The one that sounded really useful is the wide-angle lens adjustment. Itís essentially a way to correct perspective and barreling errors. You draw lines following straight objects and the program will make them straight, and/or vertical or horizontal as needed. The neat thing is that if you have lens data, the program uses that to make assumptions about barreling. Thatís handy if you are using (like I was) a SMC 24mm f2.8 lens. The program used the focal length I had input for the IS system. Hereís the original photo:



With a little work, drawing lines and playing with the other controls, I ended up with this:



I was really impressed, certainly easier than using the skew tool to deal with the leaning lines and CS4ís lens adjustment tool (which I could never quite get to work right).

I decided to not post the corrected picture because the project Iím doing is limited to only 1 picture, and you needed the before picture to see the point. So I posted this one:



Cloud reflections donít need an explanation.

I didnít feel all that well on Friday, so I stayed home. I did walk around the block in the afternoon, taking pictures. This picture is the same clump of grass that I photographed on Tuesday. A bit different look to itÖ



I liked that photo the best, but couldnít resist posting another one for my project. I just posted it for the monthly challenge, so I won't repeat it here. You can see it here: http://mtngal.zenfolio.com/p487897818/e16626949 , it really IS funny (snow, boots and shorts don't quite go together, do they?).

Saturday found me doing something WAY out of my comfort zone, trying my hand at shooting ballroom dancing. The whole thing was more or less a disaster Ė I was in the wrong place for good photos and I know nothing about ballroom dancing, so didnít anticipate the action very well. Now I know why so many people complain about the AF speed of the DA*50-135. Itís never bothered me in the past, since I normally take pictures of things that donít move. It really let me down Saturday, I did much better with the FA 77, which was quite limiting. And I didnít experiment enough to get different effects. This was the picture I used for the project, it was my favorite though probably not the best I took:



A couple of other pictures:





Sunday was once again spent driving home from visiting family. Not much for picture-taking while going across the desert. Recently Iíve been looking at the various glassware Iíve picked up over the years. Some of them have interesting shapes in them when viewed at specific angles, but Iíve never quite figured out how to take a picture of them that did it justice. I thought that it would be nice to illuminate them from below. I used a small, old light-table and covered it with a pillowcase to change the color of the light. This is the one I posted to the project:



I wasnít sure about the pillow and table, so I used Topaz Labís ReMask to remove the light table and put the glass on a completely black background.



I wasnít sure about that either Ė I think I may re-visit this shot and do something with more elaborate draping or something for a background. Which one do you prefer or do you have another suggestion?
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Old Apr 20, 2012, 4:35 AM   #2
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Another really interesting set of photos.My favourites this week are:
a) the elephant - those eyes ...
b) the first dancing couple - for me it captures the movement and the girl's enjoyment fantastically well. Also, it looks pin-sharp at f3.5
c) the second glass shot - I definitely prefer the all-black background. Looks like you could have a lot of fun playing with different lighting effects.

So, another successful week!
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Old Apr 20, 2012, 10:39 AM   #3
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Thank for the feedback - maybe it is the eyes that attracted me to the bookend over the elephant train. Plus I don't like the fact the wall texture is so obvious in the one I posted. I should follow my heart more when choosing pictures. I just couldn't come up with a reason why I liked the bookend more, and the poor old thing has had a hard life, missing a tusk and all.

The kids was taken with the 77 ltd, just an awesome lens. I was having focus issues with the da*50-135 and it showed (you can see it in the second one). I liked the second one because the body positions of the two dancers were so nicely aligned. I had another picture possibility that had some more action, but I just didn't like it as well. The third one I posted because that's more or less perfection, that couple are both pros.

Maybe the second glass would look better if I had chosen a very dark grey, or put a bit of pattern to the lower half of the background. As it is it looks too cut-out to my eye. Anyone have a suggestion?
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Old Apr 20, 2012, 5:07 PM   #4
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Hi Harriet,

I agree that the second glass shot looks too cut out -- the reflections in the glass don't match the all black background. I'd suggest reshooting this on a glass table with the pillowcase and just a small light source (like small LED flashlight centered under the bottom glass' base. The light should illuminate the glasses well enough, and the light should fade as the distance increases from the subject.

You might also try playing with a vignetting tool or mask in PP on the original to shape some of the bottom BG.

In this series, my favorite is the first shot. I think that in virtually any form of expression, emotional connection with the subject finds a way to show through.

I admire your dedication to your project.

Scott
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Old Apr 20, 2012, 11:50 PM   #5
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You caught a classic of the kids dancing. Their expressions, especially the sheer joy on the little face, are wonderful. I like the glasses too. As soon as I saw the buidling shot I immediately thought of just the sky in the glass. I magine the clouds completely filling the glass. Please excuse messing with your shot.
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Old Apr 21, 2012, 1:24 AM   #6
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Scott, funny you should make that comment. I've always thought my best pictures were of things I am attracted to and love. Also, I knew what I wanted the picture to look like, the effect I wanted. I could visualize it clearly, and had been frustrated when I didn't get it right with lighting. So often I can't get what I visualize to actually work, which makes the saddle picture so very satisfying to me.

Most of my pictures are either experiments or quick, opportunistic snaps. The high rises were taken with the new cs6 feature in mind, but are otherwise unremarkable. Does anyone have an opinion on them? My monitors need to be calibrated, because the unprocessed one looked a bit dark when I was processing it, but it looks a little too light/not enough contrast now.

Thanks for the idea for the glass, I think that might work.

Paul, I like your interpretation, it says something a bit different than mine. When I had been editing it I wondered if the reflection only would bee too abstract, and for some reason wanted to make sure I had the real sky and clouds in the picture. Now I think my fare on that score was wrong, your edit shows that clearly. Plus it handles the difference in color between the sky and the building reflection, the colors don't look good together. Also, this was taken with my SMC 24 mm f2.8 lens. I've been trying to shoot more with my old manual focus lenses, and it's been interesting. I've been having trouble finding the green button for stop down metering. It was easier for me when it was the AEL button. I'll get used to it eventually.

I did think about the dedication for sticking with it and figured I could do it. What I didn't quite expect was just how much time it really needs. I mean, it only takes a few minutes to take one picture, right? Only problem is that I never take just one picture. I almost always do a series looking at a subject, and usually take more than one subject and topic. That means going through them, deciding which ones are good candidates and then processing them. I've been making a point of trying new things, both with the camera and with software, so that means a lot of re-takes and failed photos (my shutter count is going up fast!). I'm having a tough time with that over time. That's been unexpected, and I'm going to have to figure out something different than how I'm doing it now.

But I'm not going to give up yet or let it bother me that some days I just get mediocre pictures. Today was one of those, so I'm going to wait until tomorrow to actually upload one of them. I'm refusing to give in and post some older picture of mine as a filler for the days where nothing works. Will I finish the year is anyone's guess, but I've made it through 40 days so far.
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Old Apr 22, 2012, 8:22 PM   #7
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Must agree with Scott - the time and care taken with #1 really shine through! Perhaps also the quality of the old lens... Hope you are able to ride with your old friend again one of these days soon!

Dance photos a real challenge - and looks like you were up for it!

Angles in the "adjusted" buildings look a little odd to me, maybe just my (old) eyes.

Glad you are continuing this project, and hope you'll continue to enjoy, learn (and to post results)!
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Old Apr 22, 2012, 9:22 PM   #8
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Thanks, mole! You may be right about the adjusted buildings - I can't decide about it. I'll have to play some more to see if I can use it effectively.
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Old Apr 23, 2012, 10:44 AM   #9
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Sorry to be such a late responder, but I have been so busy getting my wife rehabilitated from her surgery and trying to catch up with my trip photos that time just slips away.

When I saw this post the first picture captured me as the look and feel of the leather was as natural as if I were standing in front of the real thing. You managed to light it perfectly and get the different textures of the saddle and the straps to reveal themselves so well. Keep up the good work on this project.

Lou
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Old Apr 24, 2012, 12:07 AM   #10
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Thank you, Lou. I'm delighted that so many people found the saddle picture compelling. I've tried a couple of times to get this picture but haven't managed it before. I knew what I wanted, but couldn't manage it with what lighting options I have. I was absolutely delighted that I could get what I wanted with software.

It does make me think - that picture was one where I visualized just what I wanted. I had it all planned out. I normally only get frustrated by being unable to get what I want when I do that, so I tend to shoot things that I happen to see that catch my eye. Perhaps I'm finally getting a better handle on things and can manage this every once in a while.
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