Sunday, August 23, 2009

Summer storm, Sports photography and High Contrast Portraits

First a personal note: I'm doing fine, pretty well recovered except for the voice. Which is improving, but frustratingly slowly. I was at a dinner on Friday night, with a somewhat boisterous group, everyone talking at once at times. I was trying to have a conversation with the person beside me and I was amazed that she said she could hear me, because I couldn't hear myself! I guess it'll be a little longer before it comes back.

The summer has been very quiet (calling it "summer" is somewhat of a misnomer, weather wise). The tornados a couple of days ago resulted in considerable damage but fortunately no loss of life (one up in Durham, but none in Toronto). I was indoors, enjoying dinner when it hit -- I heard about it on the way home. It was amazing how the sky cleared up to the West, while to the East the ominous black clouds were contrasted by a full arc of rainbow. I drove around for a while looking for a place to shoot some pictures of it, but I was unsuccessful. I did manage to capture some pretty awesome looking skies, though.

This was shot in Oak Ridges, looking West at the sunset.
Spectacular cloud patterns!

This image was shot at Lake Wilcox, just before I got home. It was already getting quite dark, but I exposed for the sky. I think I cropped the original a fair amount because it looks quite noisy when viewed close up. By the way, there were a flock of ducks flying in the distance, but they took away from the picture, so they got cloned out!

On a totally different note, here are a couple of images I took when I went to my grandkids' soccer tournament on the way up North yesterday. There are more shots on my Smugmug site in the August Gallery.

Now which of these images is the better one? Neither are perfect (if such a thing were possible) but the vertical one, with the crowd of players, tells the better story. Ryan (my grandson) is breaking out of the group going for the ball. The second shot captures the action, but it's really like a portrait -- it could be staged, not in the heat of a game!

Kelly, my granddaughter is the awesome beauty on the left. The other little lady is her best friend, Mackenzie and Kelly asked me to take this picture. Can you not read the emotion in this image? Suitable for framing (and it will be!).

Speaking of portraits, I want to share this next one with you. I shoot ID photos for a course, I've posted a few pictures before, but I really liked this one the moment I saw it on screen. The camera captured the texture and the lines on this gentleman's face, even though the lighting was soft (Gary Fong diffuser on the flash). I loved it, and wanted to enhance it even more, so I spent some time working magic in Photoshop. It's not my normal style, but I think it does justice to the subject. What do you think? The publications seem to be full of these high contrast portraits these days.

This is the original image, essentially as shot.

Here, I created a new layer and applied a very heavy duty hi-pass filter, then multiplied it in. Then I rendered some lighting effects to make the background more interesting and to create some contrast across the face. Finally, I added a black-and-white layer which I blended in at medium opacity to reduce the saturation of the skin tones. I could have done even more, but decided to stop at this point!

This is turning into an endless blog posting. Some days, I have more to say than others. I think I'll stop here, although I have a whole article on using the Orton Effect that I've created, but I'll save it for next time. Maybe as early as tomorrow -- so watch this space, and please -- feed back some comments!