2014 Deck – Week 41

People write all sorts of things in the sands at the seawalls… and beaches worldwide, from Love Letters (Pat Boone sang about this), to drawings, to directions to the nearest Qik Serv, to Hearts with cupid’s arrows through it and the Lovers’ names inscribed, all to be washed away with the next high tide.

Those messages are as transient to us as we are to the timeless sea; and yet, we keep making those markings and the sea wipes them out again.

I snapped a photo in passing this fellow as he used quite a long stick to mark out something in the sand, I have no idea what it was he was drawing, maybe it was a message to an extra-terrestrial ship 🙂

Midday Markings – Kingston Foreshore, Georgetown.

Click on the image to see it in the Gallery.

Pegasus on the Shore

Turn back the clock 5 years and 4 months…  I was doing one of those things that the manual says not to… shooting towards the sun… but in this case I didn’t point directly at the sun.  Since I was pointing towards the late afternoon sun, all the colours in the image became washed out leaving an almost sepia-toned image, so I carried it that extra step further in post-processing and made it a Sepia-toned image.

What had caught my eye was the light glaring off of the water that remained after the tide had receded, it made for a nice high-contrast image.

March 2nd, 2008  |  Canon PowerShot S5 IS

Shot on the lonest end of the camera’s 12x Optical zoom.

Click on the image to see it larger in the Sepia Gallery, along with many of my other Sepia-toned photos

A walk on the beach

A few Fridays back, I joined a few other photographers on a walk down to the large jetty (pier/groin) that marks the end of the Kingston seashore and the beginning of the Demerara River mouth.

As with all walks with photographers you go hoping to come back with a good image, or even a great one, yet when I downloaded my haul I was very disappointed, maybe I was hoping for too much.

Does this mean that the walk was not a success?  No.  It was what it was… a walk on the beach.  To be with friends, people with a similar pursuit, and enjoy the conversation, the breeze… that was enough.

All the photos were not horrible, but not jumped out at me, yet I decided to process at least one to make a show of reaping something from the toil of the harvest.

As I look at the image I processed, I wonder if this scene will get worse or better with the development of the new Hotel on the seashore.

Click on the image to see it in the Gallery along with other Seawall related photos

2012 Deck – Week 1

After two years of doing this, I think that this is what keeps me intrigued in photography, the weekly search for a photograph.  While Nikhil has embarked upon his Daily Photography project this year (I hope he goes the full 366) I know my limitations, I won’t be trying that anytime soon.

I think that this image is somewhat appropriate to the year, the crazy Armageddon stories and to my photography.  If you believe the Mayan Calendar theorists and many of the other Doomsday predictions regarding the year 2012, then you’re probably hoping, like myself, that I get some really good photographs this year! 🙂

This was taken on New Year’s Day, because of my interests in HDR, I thought that I would try another Black and White HDR, this one was taken at midday, I think the originals were 2ev apart.

It was a breezy day (forgot my tripod again, so this was hand-held for all three exposures), and very overcast, lots of clouds as you can see.


Looking Back

Today was supposed to be the day the trial began for the two men who attacked and robbed both Nikhil and I last September, but true to these types of cases there were some problems with the case and it has been postponed for a few weeks, but this revelation did not happen until we had been in the court for nearly three hours.

I was looking back at the photos I took that day, only two of which I had processed and decided to process another one.  Looking back, I think that this image has some merit, I love silhouettes, and while it wasn’t quite sunset as yet, the sky was lovely, and the Pegasus silhouetted against the sky appealed to me.


A Silhouette of Pegasus

And as usual, please click on the image for a better view in the Gallery.

One way to do it… Pegasus and the Clouds HDR

I have been asked to do this, so I am obliging 🙂

Let me start by saying “I am not an expert”, far from it, I am a hobbyist who experiments with various forms of photography, I happen to like HDR images although I don’t believe I have yet gotten a perfect one, but I have some I like very much and one that has even been recognised and included in a Best Of HDRs collection on WebShots.

Normally when photographers do a High Dynamic Range (HDR) image, it is in full glorious colour, but I have always been fascinated by the idea that some scenes render better in black and white, and that some of those same scenes may even render nicely in a black and white HDR.  I think I mentioned some of the terminology before, but for clarification I will write this post as if I never did  🙂

What is an HDR?  As I understand it, and HDR is an image that tries to capture as much detail in a scene as possible, especially those in brightly lit areas and shadowed areas.  This is where HDRs work best, in a scene that has both heavy shadow and brightly lit areas.  The human eye and brain is amazing, when we look at a scene, we can see the details in both these areas at once, but a camera usually takes its metering from one area, so if we meter for the “average” light of the scene, we get some blown out areas of highlights and some extra dark shadows, if we expose for the darker areas, all the detail in the brighter areas disappear, and vice versa.

In an HDR, we take at least three images or exposures.  You can take more, I have had limited success with more images and do intend to keep experimenting with that in the future.  The greater the tonal differences from bright to dark in the scene the more images you take the better, or more precisely, the more variation in the exposure from image to image, the smoother the transition in details from light to dark will be.  For the purposes of this blog-post I confine the description to the three that I took for the “Pegasus and the Clouds” photograph of my previous post.

I use a Canon Digital Rebel T1i (also known as the EOS 500D in Europe and the KissX3 Digital in Japan), it is my first SLR camera, so all my descriptions will be formed around this camera for this post.  For my three exposures I wanted to get a wide difference in the exposures to get the impact from the clouds, so went into the Exposure compensation settings and with the scroll wheel widened the AEB or Auto Exposure Bracketing settings to +2ev and -2ev, with it set like this, I will be able to take three consecutive photos, one at normal or 0ev, one at -2ev (or underexposed) and one at +2ev (or overexposed).  I also activate “continuous shooting” on the camera, when I press the shutter button, it will take all three exposures consecutively.  One tip, use a tripod if you can, I have a bad habit of not having mine around when I want to try an HDR and always have to try them handheld, this usually plays havoc with aligning the three images in the creation process.  Since the Canon shot all three without me even lifting my finger off the button, this helped a bit as I was hand-holding  the camera:-)

The images to the left are the three exposures, as shot from the camera, the top one being “normal” followed by the underexposed shot that gives me lots of detail in the clouds, and then the overexposed shot that gives me more details in the trees and shrubs.  Since I intended this to be a Black and White HDR, I did not do any colour adjustments in Adobe Lightroom.  I am trying out Lightroom, it is an amazing software for cataloging and processing my RAW files, Amazon has it for under $300.  From Lightroom I exported the three images so that I could process the HDR in a separate software, I had never tried before so I tried using DNG files as my export this time.

The software I wanted to try the HDR combination in is Mediachance’s Dynamic HDR, for its very capable handling of HDRs I find the $55 price tag reasonable.  In this software I go to “Create new HDRI” and add my three images, verify the “ev” values, select “align files in next step”.  and hit OK.

In the alignment stage, the software “fixes” one image, and allows you to manually or automatically align the other two, I usually assume that I had no rotational alignment issues with holding the camera and concentrate on the vertical and horizontal alignment of each layer, I usually reset the values to zero and move from there.  I tend to pick a spot where there are vertical and horizontal lines or crossing lines to align, it gives more contrast and overlay assistance.

Some things I find uncontrollable, like the movement of leaves in the wind, for this black and white, I chose to just ignore them  🙂  If after aligning one portion of the image you find that there is mis-alignment in a separate area, then you need to get into the complex area of “pinning” the portion and moving on to the next area and pinning and aligning it, and so on… just remember that there are two layer that you have to align each time.

Once you think you have the image aligned as you need, hit OK and go onto the next stage which I find the most fascinating, the Tone Mapping, this is where we get to bring out the details in those areas we really want them.  Dynamic HDR has some nice presets that just need tweaking for personal preference.

For the dramatic effect I was looking for with the clouds, I went for a Ultra-Contrast local method of tone mapping, I applied the “sky” 3D filter and lowered the smoothness of that filter to get the most out of the clouds, and just played with the dramatic light strength and radius for personal preference in lighting effects.  Once I had it how I wanted I processed and saved it to a high res TIFF file, which I then re-imported into Lightroom.  Just a note here; the tone mapping portion is where the photographer’s idea of the HDR is expressed, there is so much that you can do, from creating a “cartoony” type image (which I find less preferable) to a more natural type image, to a strong highly tonal image, and more.

At this point I could have just done a Black and White conversion in Lightroom and called it a day, but I was curious to see how my favourite monochrome plugin would treat the image, so I edited the new image in Nik Silver Efex, for my black and white conversion, not much to it, just some neutral conversion and then back to Lightroom.

In Lightroom, I noticed a lot of grain in the image, so I did a touch of noise reduction, some luminance smoothing and some negative clarity, and finally a small crop to remove the post on the far right of the image.

I hope I covered everything I did, since I had to do some re-creation on this as I wasn’t planning a “how to” post on this  🙂  so now I have a before and after image, a normal shot with no processing or editing, give the gloomy sky I could have done some contrast and still gotten a nice image, and the resulting HDR in BW

Just a closing note; this is based on my experience with this one image, there are other HDR software out there and there are other Black and White software too, the ones mentioned here are just the ones I was trying out with this image.  Go out, have fun!