Saturday, April 05, 2014

Springtime blah's

The sounds of Spring

Drip, drip, drip...

If I ever buy another house up here it will have a steeper roof pitch, better ventilation in the roof and be sealed better especially in the valleys. There's really only one bad spot, over my front entrance. Can't do much about it now, but it's going to have to be addressed after the melt!

It wasn't exactly Niagara Falls, but I had to empty the red pail every 4 hours or so.  This went on for a couple of days and then suddenly stopped! I have no idea why, because there's still 6"of ice over the door. Sorry about the not-very-fancy picture, but it tells the story...

When you get an email that starts with,
"This is the final notice regarding your inclusion within the 2013 Edition of Who's Who Among Executives and Professionals."
Don't you wish it was true? That it's the last time they'll annoy you with this? That's the fifth "final notice" I've received this week. You have to wonder why they keep at it...

I'm in a flat spot

I'm really not inspired to shoot picture, especially outside. The crisp, white, invigorating blanket of snow is really very tiresome now. I always have the camera with me but I've been loath to take it out. Nothing really exciting to shoot.

It was a nice day and the clouds were moving pretty fast, so I thought I'd try a long exposure showing cloud movement. Even with the 10x ND filter on, the slowest shutter speed I could get was about 3 seconds.  

Nothing, right? So I decided to shoot a 5-shot time exposure sequence, each shot 3 seconds and about 1/2 second apart. The D800 will do that automatically.Then I combined the 5 exposures as layers in Photoshop and set the blend mode to "lighten".

See the difference in the clouds? Not much. You need an even longer exposure than that, especially when shooting with a wide angle lens.

Yeah, well, still not exciting. So I added a bit more drama by adding a motion blur (masked so it only affected the sky). A little Topaz Simplify, some judicious dodging and burning, then some painting with the mixer brush, a little crop and cleanup and voilĂ !

Now we're getting somewhere! That's more like the look I was trying for.

Today's weather isn't as nice. It's above freezing but it's windy, grey and damp, so I don't feel like going out to shoot. Instead, I decided to revisit Corel Painter 11 so I installed it on the laptop and opened up a random image to re-familiarize myself with it. I think it's been almost 5 years since I used it last.

Here's the image I opened. I shot this at Furnace Falls last summer, in what I was hoping was good dawn light. Not really. Without further ado, I give you:

Painted with Corel Painter 11. I'm going to spend a bit more time with that program. While the Photoshop plugins like Topaz Simplify are interesting, you get almost predictable results, more visibly computer generated. This has more "me" and less "Photoshop" in it.
I revisited another image from last fall the other day. I had been out shooting the milky way late at night (last week's "Thou Shalt Not" image was based on another frame shot the same night). Anyway, I zoomed the lens while the shutter was open. Then I composited in a shot of my car with interior lights (shot at the same time), and did a whole bunch of technical stuff in Photoshop to arrive at this one:

I'm going to go to the Subaru dealer and see if he's interested in buying a print of this.

Speaking of revisiting things...

I was inspired by a couple of pictures I saw in the Photoshop & Lightroom group on Facebook (free to join, search for it. Also they have a sister group called "Photography Help and Share". Both worth joining). The maker did a light tent shot of a calla lily that was outstanding, and I learned he used focus stacking. So I dragged out the bellows and the el-cheapo focus rail that I have, to give it a shot.

First I did a single exposure of an old ball point pen:

This is almost a full frame shot. Specs: 2 seconds, f/11, ISO 400, Nikkor 28-80 at 80mm , with the bellows extended almost all the way out. 

This is three shots focus stacked. Depth of field is so shallow that only the head of the screw is in focus in the first shot. Again, full magnification, but at f/5.6. You can see that the far right side is not in perfect focus. This is a lot of work and tough to do! I need more practice. I don't know how people do macro, stacked shots of moving things like insects. Bound to be more interesting than a screw, though!
Paraphrasing the words of the immortal Dr. Sheldon Cooper,
"Now fetch me something interesting to shoot!"
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