ABFriday Forum Week 24

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 24 Dual Lead Image        After Post-Processing  Image                                   Original Before Image

This week’s After-Before Friday episode features a trip back in time and a shameless promotional message.  First up, the time travel segment which takes us back to the early days (at least for me) of digital photography.  It was way back in 2004 when, unlike Odysseus, I finally heeded the Sirens’ song of photography’s future and purchased a Nikon D70.

Let’s just say that immediate satisfaction was not my experience with this new medium.  Back then, I thought RAW meant something uncooked.  Fast Forward to the present and the challenge for this week:  pick an early specimen from my 2004 pathetic efforts and give it the 2014 Photoshop CC treatment.

The subject is probably familiar to many—the iconic Mont Saint-Michel on the Normandy coast of France. The image was taken about 2 months after the D70 was purchased.  Considered a reject at the time, the image had languished untouched on my hard drive until now.  A larger version of the original JPEG is shown below.  (Technical: Nikon D70, handheld, with a Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 lens extended to 50mm; exposure: 1400th sec @ f/10, ISO 200)

Robin Kent ABFriday Before Week 24

Original JPEG (sRGB) Image

Being a JPEG, the normal route for a RAW image was not available.  However, Photoshop CC has a Camera Raw Filter that provides the same tools. The screen capture below shows the adjustments made using this “filter.”  The adjustments are marked with red arrows.

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 24 Before Camera RAW

Adjustments in the Basic Settings Tab

The image still seemed flat, so I deployed the Gradient Filter, (see  magenta arrow). First, I dragged the cursor downward from the top (yellow arrow) to darken the sky. Next I dragged the cursor upward from the bottom (green arrow) for a second filter to darken the water.  The settings for both gradients are displayed on the right side (red arrows).

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 24 Before Gradient

Camera RAW Gradient Filter

 Finally, it seemed that a vignette would help focus the viewer’s attention on the central subject.  A comment on a previous ABFriday post had pointed out that Camera Raw has a vignette capability (I believe it was Emilio, correct me if I’m wrong) and so I thought I would give it a try.  While I still think I have more flexibility with shape and position using other tools in Photoshop itself, I have to admit this is pretty quick and easy.  I may have overdone it here, but a little practice will probably help.  The screen capture below shows the settings for the vignette tool which is located on the f/x tab (red arrow at top right).

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 24 Vignette

Camera Raw Vignette

That was it, and I believe the final image below t is an improvement over the original.  Comments and suggestions are most welcome. Thanks again to Stacy and the other contributors to the Forum.  Please check out the other submissions at this week’s ABFriday Forum Week 24

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 24 After Ver 2

Final Image

And now for the promised promotional segment.  If you haven’t already heard, the After-Before Friday Forum is in the midst of a hotly contested “election.”  Readers can vote for one of eleven “Before” images displayed at Stacy Ficher’s VisualVenturing blog.  The image with the most votes will be post-processed by 11 photographers who submitted those images.  The winning image will be announced on November 7th.  Then the 11 participants will all work feverishly on the same image and the 11 “After” results will be posted on November 14. Preliminary voting results “leaked” by the commissioner of the election indicate an extremely tight race among 3-4 of the candidates, but only she knows their identities.  So get over there and vote if you haven’t done so already.  The polls close at midnight EST on November 4th.

Central Park, Part 2

This last weekend, I was in New York City for a brief visit and spent a fair amount of time in Central Park, at least the area around the Bethesda Terrace.  The picture I posted last Sunday of the Bethesda Fountain was only one (although my favorite) of the several I took while there.  Here are a few more.

Central Park 10

The Terrace’s quietest moments are in the early morning on weekends.  This image, taken on Saturday morning from an overlook balcony shows that dog owners are among the first to arrive with their canine companions.  The nearby roads are already bustling with bikers and runners.

Central Park 02

The Terrace borders the Lake and is the second largest body of water in Central Park.  The image above, taken at sunrise, was taken from the pathway leading away from Bethesda Terrace towards Central Park West.  The twin towers are the San Remo co-op apartments, originally built in 1930.

Central Park 05

The famous Bow Bridge is nearby, leading into the Ramble, which was described by Frederick Law Olmstead, the park’s designer, as a “36-acre wild garden.”  It is a rolling forest of trees, plantings, and wildlife. Once there, it is easy to forget one is in the center of New York City. Because of the park’s location along the Atlantic flyway migration route, the Ramble is the center of birding activity in the Park. The image above, taken in mid-morning, is the view as one emerges from the Ramble to cross the Bow Bridge and head back toward the Bethesda Terrace.  As I crossed the bridge a few minutes later, a young man was kneeling before his companion, asking her to marry him.

Central Park 08

The nearby Loeb Boathouse has boats available for rent and, on warm afternoons, rowing a boat about The Lake is a popular activity.  One can also rent a piloted gondola for $30 per half hour (above).  The area around Bethesda Terrace almost always has several commercial photo shoots underway but the photographer in the boat has found a way to escape the competition for a prime spot.

Central Park 06

In the late afternoon, I spotted a “Balloon Man” whose shimmering creations were delighting a trio of youngsters who had wandered away from a wedding party photo session.  This image was taken from the same balcony as the panorama image of the Terrace and Fountain above.  The balcony is immediately above a pedestrian pass-through that is illuminated at night (below).  The glowing gold of the ornate ceiling attracts photographers like a flame lures moths.  This image was taken while navigating two fashion shoots and a skillful itinerant musician playing a guitar and singing romantic tunes.

Central Park 04

The Loeb Boat House not only rents boats, but also has a restaurant with some prime views.  By this time the image below was taken, the boat rental facility had closed, but the dinner hour was in full swing.  There is also a café that has a passable breakfast for under $7.00 starting at 8 AM.

Central Park 07

Finally, it was time to leave  but as I walked back toward Central Park West, I was struck by the ethereal quality of the Bow Bridge as its white masonry took on a luminous quality in the evening twilight.

Central Park 03

Bethesda Fountain, Central Park

First, an apology to my fellow contributors at ABFriday Forum for publishing a dead link to the Week 23 Forum a few days ago.  It couldn’t have happened at a worst time because this week featured the long-anticipated annoucement of the “Reader’s Poll” whereby all readers can vote for the image they would most like to see undergo post-processing by 11 different photographers. Worse yet, I was traveling without a computer and could not repair the damage until now.  Here is the actual and, hopefully, correct link: ABFriday Week 23.  The poll will remain open until midnight Wednesday November 4th.

And now back to the normal program:

Central Park 01

Bethesda Fountain, Central Park, New York City

The Bethesda Fountain is topped by the Angel of the Waters statue, the only statue that was commissioned for Central Park.  According to the park’s website, the fountain commemorates the Croton water system, which first brought fresh water to New York City in 1842. The angel carries a lily in her left hand — a symbol of the water’s purity, very important to a city that had previously suffered from a devastating cholera epidemic before the system was established. It was created by Emma Stebbins, the first time a woman received a public art commission in New York City.

 

After-Before Friday Forum Week #23

after-before-friday-post-header

This week Stacy Fischer’s ABFriday Forum is announcing a “Reader’s Pick” for the Forum.  Here is how it works:  Previous participants during Week 1 through last week (Week 22) have been asked to submit a “Before” image on their own and those submissions are now on display at VisualVenturing here.

Visitors to that site are invited to look over the images and vote for one.  Mine is there, but it will be–like all the others–anonymous.  The image receiving the most votes will then be post-processed by all of the participants and the different interpretations of that image will be displayed as a group on November 14th, which marks the half-year point (week 26) of the Forum.

All of the participants except for the one who made the image selected by the readers will be working on an image that is not their own.  What will they do?  Does the fact that it is not your own image change one’s entire editorial philosophy?  Will the participants attempt to create something unexpected or  something bizarre?  will this be an occasion in which the more traditional editing route is the most dangerous?

Don’t miss your chance to be part of the fun.  Vote early, vote often.

The Ballot Box can be found at visualventuring.ordpress.com

After-Before Friday Forum Week 22

Robin Kent Before Week 22 Giverny

Original Raw Image

Stacy Fischer’s blog VisualVenturing hosts the weekly After-Before Friday Forum that provides a unique opportunity for photographers to exchange ideas about post-processing their images.  There is always something new to learn from this exchange. This week’s Forum will be up later this morning and can be found here.

My submission for this week’s Forum was taken a few years ago in Claude Monet’s gardens in Giverny, France.  It was a cloudy day which can be really helpful for photographing flowers. But, as usual, the gardens were crowded with visitors so the best strategy was to search for individual blooms.  This little fellow was seemingly calling out for a portrait so I gave it a try.  The “Before” image above is the original RAW file with no adjustments.

A quick inspection indicates that, unless some special effects are being considered, the image does not seem to require any heroic measures.  The standard workflow began with the Adobe Camera Raw dialog window.     It seemed that the image needed to be a little darker overall to capture the mood of the cloudy day and also could use some added contrast.  The contrast slider by itself was too harsh, so after experimenting with a combination of the Whites, Blacks, Shadows, Highlights, and Contrast controls the most appealing combination resulted in the settings shown in the screen capture below.

Robin Kent Before 02A Week 22 Giverny

Adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw

 The changes were as follows:  Exposure decreased to – 0.40;  Contrast increased to +35;  Highlights decreased to -28;  Shadows decreased to -3;  Whites decreased to -15;          Blacks increased to +11;  Clarity increased to +24;  Vibrance increased to +27.  The resulting image is shown below.

 Robin Kent Before 02 Week 22 GivernyImage After Adobe Raw Adjustments

The image was then opened in Photoshop.  The only step remaining was to create a vignette to help bring the viewer’s attention to the central subject and give the image a little more depth (3-D effect?) to separate the subject from the background.  There are many ways to create a vignette and these were the steps I followed (see image below).

Robin Kent Before 03 Week 22 Giverny

I used the Elliptical Marquee tool to select an oval shape around the central flower, making sure the “Feather” was set for a high number (usually above 50 pixels).  But since the area to be darkened is everything outside the oval selection, the next step was to click on SelectàInverse.  (See yellow arrow) I next opened a Curves Adjustment Layer, set the Blend Mode to Multiply and the Opacity to 50%, and changed the layer name to “Vignette.”  (See red arrows).  The curves histogram was not changed from the default setting.  Depending on the effect you are looking for, there is a lot of flexibility by using the controls for feather in the selection and the amount of opacity in the layer.

The final result is shown in the image below.  As you can see, the difference with the vignette is quite subtle.  Thoughts from readers would be welcome.

Robin Kent After Week 22 Giverny

Final Image with Vignette Added

Once again thanks to Stacy Fisher for keeping the Forum on track.  The other submissions can be found at her Visual Venturing post here.  Please check them out.  And don’t miss this Forum next week; there will be a “twist” to the proceedings.   Stacy has sworn us all to secrecy, but it should be fun.

2014 Studio Tour

Studio Tour 03

Every year in the fall, the artists of Great Falls, Virginia hold an Open Studio weekend, inviting the public into their studios to learn about their art, their techniques, and why they are so dedicated to the creation of visual art.  This year, more than 50 members of Great Falls Studios are participating in this event which will be held this year on 17-19 October from 10 AM to 5 PM each day.  My studio (see images below) will be one of those open and I hope followers of my blog who live in the Washington, DC area will be able to drop by.

But there are 49 other artists as well and information about the tour and each of the participants can be found at the 2014 Great Falls Studio Tour website.  Information is provided about each of the participants so you can design your own itinerary and see works of painters, potters, photographers, jewelers, sculptors, fiber artists, and other media depending on your interests.  The site has a page with links to maps that can be downloaded.  Or you can start at the Studio Tour Headquarters in the Great Falls Library and see actual samples of work from each of our participants, ask questions from our representative who will be there, and pick up a map that will guide you through the roads and byways of Great Falls to the studio locations.  The library, normally closed on Sundays, has graciously agreed to be open on October 19th for this event.

Studio Tour 01

Printing and Matting Area, Lower Studio

Studio Tour 02

Gallery, Upper Studio

I hope to see you here.

After-Before Friday Forum — Week 21

The After-Before Friday Forum, sponsored by Stacy Fischer of VisualVenturing is an opportunity for photographers to exchange ideas on various post-processing techniques they use to achieve their creative vision. After all, when the shutter closes, there is still work to be done.  All of the submissions can be found at  the Forum Week 21 posting here.  Anyone can participate and the guidelines can be found in Stacy’s Forum post each week.

My submission this week was taken a few years ago at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC.  The cherry blossoms had peaked a day or so before and a night rain had knocked a lot of petals off the blossoms giving the appearance of a pink snow flurry.  I was fortunate in that no one had yet walked through the petals.  When photographing cherry blossoms in low light, I always use an on-camera flash to provide some fill light.  Just a touch is all that’s needed so I typically dial the flash back 2 or 3 stops.  In addition, I use a magenta gel filter on the flash so the white light doesn’t blow out the color of the petals.  (Technical data: Nikon D700 on tripod with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens extended to 24mm; exposure: 3 sec. @ f/16, ISO 800) This produced the RAW file shown below.

Robin Kent Before  Week 21 FDR 01

Original RAW Image

The exposure was OK with the cherry blossoms, the twilight blue of the sky, and the display wall.  The chief problem areas are: the overly hot flood light (upper center) and the uplights along the base of the wall; the underexposed pillars; and the foreground with the pink petals.  The image was opened in Adobe Camera RAW as the first step.

 Robin Kent Before  Week 21 FDR 02Adobe Camera RAW Adjustments

Only four changes were needed here (red arrows). The “Highlights adjustment was moved to -53 to tone down the hotspots in the lights. The “Shadows” adjustment was maxed out to +100 to open up the dark areas which helped improve the pillars. Some “Clarity” was added (+26) and just a smidgen (+13)  with the “Vibrance” slider.  The image is well saturated already and doesn’t need much more.

This was followed by moving the image into Photoshop (see image below). The first step  involved the pillars.  The underexposed sections were selected (red lines) and a Curves

Robin Kent Before  Week 21 FDR 03

First Curves Adjustment for Pillars

Adjustment Layer (blue arrow) was opened.  It required a fairly push  up with the curve to get the desired detail.  The blend mode was left in the default position of Normal.The final step was to brighten up the foreground a bit.  The pink are was selected (red line in the image below) and a second Curves Adjustment was made (blue arrow).  The blend mode

Robin Kent Before  Week 21 FDR 04

Second Curves Adjustment for Foreground

was left at Normal again and only a modest push was made to the Curve.   This produced the final image which is shown below.

Robin Kent After Week 21 FDR 01

Final Image

Once again, many thanks to Stacy Fischer for keeping this Forum up and running.  Please check out the submissions by the other participants at her post for Week 21 here.  And stay tuned for a special edition coming soon that is based on a suggestion from one of the participants.