Thursday, July 19, 2012

July is supposed to be a quiet time!

It's been hectic. There's been a lot going on, and some things have kept me from picking up the camera in the last little while. The disturbing part is that for a while, I didn't feel much like shooting pictures. It's a little odd, because I have a couple of new toys, one of which I haven't succeeded in using yet.

Part of the reason might have been that it's just been too hot. I was driving back up North last Saturday and decided to stop at one point to take some shots of a field with harvested hay rolls. I had a picture in my mind but didn't really capture it, although I "worked the scene" as Scott Kelby suggested in his recent seminar. What caught my eye as I drove by was this:

Too bad there weren't any clouds in the sky. And that the temperature was in the mid 30's (over 90°F). This was about an hour away from my house and I took solace in the thought that 5 minutes after getting home, I'd be in the lake!
Anyway, I stayed there about half an hour, trying various things. I chased a couple of butterflies around but they never landed so I couldn't get a shot. The best shot of the session was this one:

Originally I was going to post this exactly as it came out of the camera so that I could say, "See! Exactly as it came out of the camera!". However I never leave well enough alone. I sharpened the left and warmed it up a bit, and I blurred the right just a touch in Lightroom. But otherwise, it's "Exactly as it came out of the camera"!
I ran a basic DSLR workshop on Sunday. The students were excellent: they had great vision and a feel for composition, so it was a pleasure to work with them. One got a very cool picture of a grasshopper on my woodpile; I've spent 2 days looking for the little guy so I could emulate it, without success! I did take out the bellows to show them how it worked, and found these teeny tiny bugs on a daisy:

These guys are about half the size of a grain of rice, to put it in perspective. I missed the focus by a touch, though.
I got a candid shot of one of the students at lunchtime. Bear in mind, this is outside, in sunlight, at mid-day. Just the time when you're not supposed to be able to take good pictures. I was trying to get a backlit shot for the "lighting" lesson and this worked out pretty well.

Here's a 100% crop of the original image. I was surprised how much texture appeared, given that the light was coming from behind her. I did some enhancement in Lightroom:

Next I took it into Photoshop and did some more work on it. Primarily I focused on the eyes, but then I added a "Glamor Glow (Nik Color Efex Pro). Then I brought it back into Lightroom, took out some more skin texture and lowered the red saturation a bit.

When I posted the un-cropped image on the NAPP site, I was accused of over-smoothing the skin, a la "Fotoshop by Adobé". So I reworked it a bit, same concept but less effect. Here's what I ended up with:

I'm pretty satisfied with this shot. Maybe I should shoot something other than rocks and trees sometimes!
I shot some more macro stuff with the bellows. The jury is still out on the focusing rail that I got (I don't like that the control that lock the positioning and the screw control to move it are both on the same side. I don't have enough hands!). Anyway, this is a 4-shot focus stack on a flower bud that's about the size of a grain of rice (when I think of a better comparison, I'll let you know!).

And yesterday I picked some raspberries, so I shot this single frame. This one is a virtually untouched original:

Until next time! TTFN.

— 30 —