Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fall is coming. Do you know where your pictures are?

Fall Colours are coming!

We all have our favourite spots for taking fall pictures. And we all know of spots we'd like to visit, Every year I say "I'm not going to shoot the colours again" and yet every year I do!

Obviously, the bright colours are the most addictive: but why? Bright colours are all around us, what is it about the autumn leaves?

Obviously I used Topaz Impression 2 (my favourite preset is "Impasto") on this image, but there's more to it than that! I did a lot of extra technical work to make this picture look like what I had in mind when I shot it. For one thing, it's an HDR merge of 5 bracketed shots so that I could work with the full dynamic range. And I used some secret sauce (see below) to bring out the colours of the foliage which were not anywhere near that intense so early in the season. I actually muted and blurred the background just a bit to enhance the foreground subject. 

I think the answer lies in the colour palette. I don't know enough about colour theory but from my painting experience, I know that the basic fall colours all come from the same set of basic pigments: reds and yellows and greens. They're balanced by the skies and the water. I wish I could achieve this look with brushes and oil paint. I've taken a sabbatical from painting for a while to get past this frustration, but looking at scenes like the one above is tempting me to take them out again.

So: two things. First, a few years ago, I wrote a "Guide to Shooting Fall Colours" and I published it as a pdf book online. Here's a free link to the guide: Enjoy. All I ask is that you find me on Facebook (search for "faczen") and tell me what you thought of it. Feel free to share: I've given up trying to make any money from these publications, I share them in the spirit of education! (well, if you decide to donate something, you could follow the link at the beginning of the book!). And if you're not a subscriber to my newsletter, do the right thing! Click the link at the top right of this blog.

The second thing: I watched a presentation by Scott Kelby that he gave a few years ago at B&H Photo. Towards the end, he did a segment on enhancing fall colours in Photoshop. He demonstrated a simple technique which really works, although I don't really understand why! It's only 4 steps: here goes!

You need Photoshop for this. Do it on a copied layer (ctrl-J or cmd-J on a Mac) so you can change the intensity easily later. Here's the starting image:

Remember you can click on any image to blow it up full size 

  •  convert your image from RGB to LAB colour

  • Apply the image

  • Change the blend mode to "Overlay" (you can experiment with other modes, like "Soft Light" for more and less intense effect); and select the "b" channel. This menu pops up when you click "apply image" in the previous step.

  • Now simply switch back to RGB so you can continue editing, or output a normal Jpeg. If you did this on a fresh layer copy, you can now change the opacity or blend mode, or you can mask areas as you wish.

Here's the resulting image after those four steps. 

I used that brilliant free stitching program from Microsoft that I wrote about last week, again (what a convoluted sentence!). This is another shot from the marina where I dock my boat, like the first picture on today's blog.

This was carefully cropped and straightened up using the perspective cropping tool in Photoshop (People don't seem to know about this tool. It's simple to use and so effective!) . The original image was an amazing 266 Mp in size; this crop is almost 60 Mp! Again I used Impression/Impasto, and I added some texture using Topaz Texture Effects.  

Here's the link to that Microsoft stitching program, "Image Composite Editor" or "ICE":

Here's the blog banner I just replaced. I need to do this so that the old one doesn't just disappear into cyberspace:

Gales of November: less than a month away and I'm excited because (a) there are some outstanding people attending and (b) we have some fantastic venues to shoot and some great programs planned!
Despite several last-minute inquiries, we still have two spaces available in the first weekend (October 20-23) AND a lodge room has opened up. Also there are still 4 spaces on the second weekend. Jump on it, folks! YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO BE THERE
Visit for details and if you want the first weekend, email me directly. The October 27-30 session can be booked directly online. 

Open Canoe Races

The open canoe event took place on the Gull River at the Minden Wildwater Preserve last weekend and several camera club members came out to take some pictures. Here are my two favourite shots from the event:

A picture is worth 1000 words.I don't need any words for these pictures, do I? 

Parting Shot

Here's a fall sunflower on the side of the road that called out to me to have its picture made. 


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