Post-Processing

Late Spring Runoff at Elbow Falls

I went out for a photo shoot of the Elbow Falls in Kananaskis, Alberta with a couple of fellow photographers last week.  The flow of the water and the textures created by the currents and the rocks were mesmerizing.

The river is still rising from the spring runoff from the snow. Spring was late and so is the peak of the high water from the melting snow and ice in the mountains. The flow is very different from the rest of the seasons. The waterfall is engulfed right now so that the normal lip is overrun. This creates a very different face for the falls which is great to explore with a camera. Here are a few from the edge and around.

As night took hold, blue colors were accentuated creating a cool, dreamy feeling to the long exposure images.  This is one of my last from the evening.


Silhouettes: Elk on a Ridge


 The Sibbald Herd is a large group of elk that forage west into the front range of the Kananaskis mountains and east to Springbank near Calgary.  They move within a relatively thin band along the eastern part of their land and are often in the scrub brush that edges the farmland along Highway 22 between Highway 8 and the Trans Canada Highway.  They often graze behind this ridge in a shallow valley but on this morning I found them lined up among the trees and the rocks.  They were quite interested in my for a couple of minutes and then resumed grazing and wandered back behind the hill. 

 I photographed these animals about an hour after sunrise with the sun still below the crest of this ridge.  The strong backlighting made for wider range from dark to light than my camera can capture so I chose to work with the structural elements within the scene.  Reduced to black and white, there is an interesting relationship between the land and the elk highlighted in these pictures.

  Playing around on this last one.  I like how the white bushes look like splatter paint.


Truck World – a stereoscopic effect

I have been playing with a new photo processing app called Tiny Planets.  It processes photographs into a stereoscopic image which can look really cool.   This image above shows how the app transformed the image below into a tiny planet.

Here is a slideshow with some of the warps made from my image library

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This is a free app on iTunes, so if you have an Apple device, check it out.

 

If you are on Facebook, check out my new photography page


Downtown 1956 Ford F-100

Usually I see old, distressed trucks like this one rusting away next to a barn.  It was cool to see this fellow had his on the road.  I’m sure the old Ford appreciated being taken out for a spin and put to work!

For those who are curious, I believe this is a 1956 F-100.  The fender threw me for a bit but I think the owner just put on a replacement.  Or else this is a different year – I’m not an expert.  It’s a great looking truck whichever year it was made.


Waiting in Gastown


A photograph made in Gastown in Vancouver, British Columbia.  The restaurant is the Water St. Cafe and I love how the subject of the image, the waiter, is separated from the street scene by these large panes .  I photographed this image a couple of years ago with my old Canon XT and converted it into black and white immediately back then. I had not looked at it much since then but it was stored in one of the image portfolios on my phone. This afternoon I was playing with an app (TiltShift) on my iPhone which applies tilt and shift effects to any accessible image.  So, with adjustment of the point of focus and then selecting the amount of blur, I came up with a new version of this archived photo that I quite like.

 


Winter Horses in the Trees

My wife and I were out at the Folk Tree Lodge near Bragg Creek, Alberta to give the kids a night with the grandparents.  We spent New Year’s Eve there with a great group at the invitation of Paola and Alvise so it was great to spend another night there – such a great retreat.

In the morning I had plans to wander the trails around the ranch and find a good spot to photograph the sunrise.  I threw those out once I came up to the fence for the horse paddock.  Paola and Alvise have a small herd of horses they take care of.  In the pre-dawn I could make them out on the far side of the large field so I decided they would be the subject of the morning’s shoot.  All the horses had to do was cooperate.  Horses can be wary but their curiosity will usually takeover if you can remain still and just wait for them.  It took a while but once two horses approached the rail and, after a good pat, went back to the herd, then the rest of the horses relaxed and followed me around as I worked with the increasing light and rising sun out of the east.  I really enjoyed talking to them and playing with them as I was photographing.

In the processing of the images, I worked on a few different approaches.  I will give the summary of what work I did in post for the applicable images in case you are interested.

Shooting towards the sun washed this photo out a little bit so I brought it back by increasing the contrast and black level in Lightroom.

This mare was easily the most curious in the group, followed closely by the black horse.  Both enjoyed the attention and the scratches on the cheek and behind the ears.

The curious horse playing shy among the trees on her way over to the fence.


Brightened slightly in Lightroom and then I increased the saturation in the coats and trees while cooling the white balance in the snow.  I spent about one minute on this image which is more than usual but I like the result.

This was the first horse to approach once the herd had moved across the field, into the trees and close to me on the fence.  The sun was still a while away from rising so the deep colours in the coats was not there yet so I preferred this image in black and white.  I converted it using the split tone functionality in Lightroom’s develop module.  I like to use a a pale gold color for the highlights and a blue gray for the shadows.  I increased the exposure to accomplish two goals: bring out the details in the foreground horse’s face and to lend an abstract, graphic feel to the other horses.

I desaturated this image in Lightroom and then used Topaz Adjust to bring out detail and to do targeted exposure adjustment.  The sun backlit the horses and I loved the way it highlighted their coats.  I used the adjustments to brighten the faces and bring out the detail.

 

Great subjects and fun to work with these images a little bit on the computer.  Thank you to Alvise and Paolo for enabling a night (and morning) in their wonderland.

 


The view from my chair


I was in Birmingham Alabama a couple of years ago for a ceramics technology seminar and got out for an evening of street shooting.  I had supper at this diner and the view from my table was interesting and raised a few questions that stuck with me.

I processed this image in Adobe’s Lightroom and Topaz Adjust to create a vignette around the edges of the frame.  The color treatment was to work with the garish fluorescent lighting in the restaurant and create the mood that I felt in the scene.


Bel Air Wreck on the Prairie

This beaten down shell is on a salt pan in the middle of a barren stretch of prairie near Gull Lake, Saskatchewan.  The country roads that connect all parts of the Canadian prairie hold many long forgotten photographic treasures like this car, farmsteads and weathered buildings.  I love finding these great locations and try to re-visit them whenever I can.  I have visited this car and a neighboring broken down farm several times over the past five years.

With a little down time so far this holiday, I have been working with some different software to test them out.  Here, I’m using Topaz Adjust 4 to process the photos for a saturated, over the top look.  The software integrates seamlessly into Adobe’s Lightroom (my main developing and cataloging software) and is reasonably priced at $50.  I am usually less garish in my post processing but it is nice to try some different looks.

 

In these images I have started with the Topaz Spicify preset as a starting point, then adjusted some of the levels to my taste within each picture and then re-imported into Lightroom to adjust some of the color channels and the edge smoothness.


Split Toning Images in Adobe Lightroom

With this photograph, I used the split toning controls within Adobe Lightroom’s Develop Panel to make a different looking image.  I converted the image to black and white then used the split toning section to set the colours that I wanted to use to tone the image (a grey-blue for the shadows and a grey-gold for the highlights).  Using the sliders to tweak the hue and saturation of these tones, I was able to bring a subtle, metallic sheen to this monk’s skin.  I had this look in mind recently which has a very different feel from the original, colour image which has warm earthy tones.

Here is a more typical look that I like in my black and white work

In the original, the dust in air has warmed the light and given a glow to everything.

I like how you can use great light to create different versions of the same image.  I’m still not sure which one I prefer.  Colour is pretty consistently a main theme in my images but I like the glow and the slightly metallic look in the split toned edition.


A Vivid Adjustment Technique with Adobe’s Lightroom

I tend to only display photographs that are relatively close to the way that I saw them when I was in the moment, making the image.  I enjoy images of all kinds, be it HDR, Orton Effects, duotones, composites, etc.  It just seems that of the work I do, I prefer the “realistic” look for the images I display.  Behind closed doors, I spend all kinds of time processing some of my images with the previously mentioned techniques and others.  A lot never see the light of day but now and then I like the results of this play.

In the photograph above, I manipulated the final look in Adobe’s Lightroom program. Working in the Develop module, I pulled the recovery, fill light, vibrance, contrast and clarity sliders all the way to the right (100) and black to 40. This resulted in a really garish look and the trick was to use saturation to reduce the color to suit your taste. I then tweaked all of the above sliders and the white balance to match what was in my head.

Give it a try if you are looking for another way to look at one of your images, it might work for you.  This treatment works well on buildings and machinery, particularly when they are weathered.  The effect on people is a bit of a wild card so it definitely doesn’t work for everything (or anything depending on what you like!)

For reference, above is the original photo with only an increase to contrast from the original RAW file out of the camera.  I like this image and it has the look that I usually display.  I’m actually pretty evenly split between these two versions of the photograph.  The vivid one brings the temple more prominently into the scene and makes the story about the people and the temple.  The “normal” version has the father and son as the primary subjects and the story is about the two of them together in the canoe.  The temple serves as a great backdrop but does not demand attention.  I would love to hear your thoughts on which works for you.

Just to highlight the impact of this treatment on buildings, here is another normal and vivid comparison.  The photograph is also from Inle Lake.

Above is the normal version and below is its vivid counterpart.