Yesterday, I went around the yard with my iPro macro lens on my iPhone. The depth of field is quite shallow when you’re right on top of an object, which you have to be. It was a good challenge and made me slow down for each shot. I used Snapseed for the edit, where I only used tune image on this first one.
Below is an example of what adding a little drama and center focus can do. The image has more detail and the eye is drawn to the flower more because of the use of center focus on it.
In the local section of yesterday’s paper, there was an article about a musician who had placed 12 pianos along the coastline in San Mateo County. By last Friday, the rangers had removed 5, so I decided I had to make time to go to the beach before they were all gone. You can check out the project’s website here.
In early July, Mauro is planning to deploy twelve pianos at select locations along the beautiful San Mateo coastline. Anyone can come and play a piano by the sea, anytime. He’s inviting some incredible bay area musicians to join him in bringing attention to the fragile state of the world’s oceans, as well as the near extinction of the “personal” piano. Piano manufacturing has dwindled, and the neglect of acoustic pianos has caused thousands of them to end up in landfills. The “Twelve Pianos” project will focus the spotlight on two species with uncertain futures.
I drove out to Poplar beach in Half Moon Bay because the article said there were still 3 pianos out there. The one above was easy to spot from the parking lot. It was covered in plastic, so I had to uncover it to get my shots. There was a father and son at the piano as I approached it. The little guy was playing some music. I bet this is a memory neither of them will forget. How often do you get to play piano at the beach?
I wish I had someone with me to model/play while I took some photos with my Nikon. I do know a few pianists that I’m sure would love a free shoot, including my brother and his wife. I just hope someone has some time in the next few days because this is probably a once in a lifetime shoot.
Both of the images were shot with TrueHDR because using a camera app that only takes one exposure would blow out the sky and you’d miss out on the drama that the clouds were bringing. I also used Snapseed and SimplyHDR to edit.
I had a great day yesterday. I finally found time to finish an interview for an iPhoneography website and I was asked to write up a tutorial for the topaz labs newsletter. Yay for more exposure. Even more importantly, I was able to focus and get some work done, instead of micromanaging my grandmother’s life. It felt like a day off even though I worked past 9pm.
Now, about today’s shot from Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, CA. I thought I would also share the before picture below so you can see what I started with. I had a hard time deciding how to edit this one. Sometimes, if you don’t previsualize what the final image will be, it can be a challenge making a very average photo stand out. As you can see, the original was flat and lacked pop. I tried a number of my painting apps because I thought this one would work as a painterly image. Wrong.
I knew I wanted to bring more drama to the image, so I made some edits in Snapseed and tried the drama filter. It just didn’t work for me on this one, so I canceled it and just saved the other edits. Next, I used SimplyHDR to pull out detail and add a very subtle vignette. It still didn’t seem done, so I saved the image and imported it into Tadaa where I used the HD clarity filter and the Sylt filter at a lower opacity. The result was more of a film look that had the pop I was looking for.
What do you think about the difference between the before and after shots?
After an awful hotel experience the night before in Redlands, complete with screaming children bouncing around the room next door beyond 1am, we splurged on a boutique hotel, called Tuscan Springs, that we randomly drove up to in Desert Hot Springs.
I quickly took this photo while we toured the place. We originally were just looking to pay for day use of the hot mineral water spa’s and pool, but it was so relaxing and inviting that we had to stay. Everything about this place said vacation. Each courtyard had chairs, big comfy couches, and even beds. But, I think, when we were told it was adults only (not clothing optional,) we were already sold.
This particular spa was the size of a small pool.
Shot with camera+ and edited with Snapseed
The clouds were pretty interesting the other evening. Just for a few moments, the light and the colors of the scene were awesome. I was lucky enough to be there to witness it. Stupid me didn’t wait around for the sunset though. I drove to another part of the coast, chasing a cloud that I was hoping would make for a great shot at sunset. Unfortunately, it evaporated before the sun went down and I was left in the middle of agriculture fields with nothing too exciting going on.
This was shot with TrueHDR. Edited with Snapseed, Tangled FX, and ImageBlender. I liked the Tangled FX version, but wanted to dial it back a bit by using ImageBlender to reduce the opacity of the effect to about 70% just to bring back a hint of realism.
Yes, I’m still here…and alive. The pain has gotten worse since I went on this hike a few days ago. I thought I was feeling fine, so I pushed myself to be active. Now, I’m paying for it.
These ridiculous homes are set back a little ways from a cliff overlooking the ocean. Life must be rough for whoever lives on this gated road.
Shot with ProHDR. Snapseed and SimplyHDR for the edit.
I meant to go out and scout locations for the storm coming in, but I wasn’t feeling too good yesterday. Luckily, my roommate saw this out the window and we went out on the balcony to enjoy the view for 5-10 minutes. I took multiple pictures with the iphone and Nikon (haven’t even looked at those yet.)
I hardly ever settle for just one shot, especially around sunset when the light conditions are changing rapidly. Take lots of pictures and only show the best of the best. I’m thinkin there may need to be some sort of challenge soon where you take at least 100 shots of the same subject. Shannon! Where are you?
These were simple to edit. I shot with camera+ and added some drama to both in Snapseed. That was it. Drama is great for making the clouds more dramatic.
Going back to the vehicle theme today.
There is a house across highway 1 that seems to always have busted up, old trucks for sale. They make great subjects for HDR, but this was shot with camera+, so its not really an HDR pic. I added drama and a vignette with snapseed, then used Tadaa for some clarity and a little bit of a filter.
I even wrote a quick haiku to go with this one because, for whatever reason, girls tend to challenge me to write haikus. My favorite one was a haiku making fun of haikus. =)
A broken down pile,
You throw rocks at me for fun,
Please love me again.
Be still with yourself until the object of your attention affirms your presence.
I tend to avoid taking pictures when the sun is high in the sky, but yesterday when I went out in the yard around 1, there was some good light hitting the tulips. I took quite a few pictures before I really became present and observed what was going on. The tulips were dancing in the breeze and basking in the warm sun. After I became aware of what was going on I changed my approach and got some amazing images with my Nikon (see one below.)
I was using camera+ and the white balance was totally thrown off on all but one image because of the intense color. I’m surprised by how much detail there is in this one. All I did was add a little ambiance, a tiny amount of drama, and a little structure in Snapseed.
Here is the winning shot of the day from my Nikon.
This is the walkway out to Oso Flaco Lake. I always liked this location, in fact, I took some engagement pictures here one time. The only problem is all of the trees around the path block a lot of light, making it impossible for the iPhone to capture the whole dynamic range of the scene, even with ProHDR, which I used for this shot. The sky gets blown out everytime.
Have a look at the original to see how much work was done to this image.
Pretty dull right? First I took this into Snapseed to apply a vintage filter (I used one that doesn’t apply color,) then I added some Drama, and converted to black and white. Theres no good reason why I didn’t use Dramatic BW for the bw conversion. Snapseed did a good job this time.
I liked the new lighting of the scene, but I thought I could add a little something extra to make it even more interesting. I used Rays to add those rays of light onto the path. Maybe I was influenced after sharing Lars van de Goor’s work on my other blog. Go check out that post for some inspiration.
This image was taken with ProHDR, but I didn’t think the app did a great job of blending the exposures. I didn’t want to trash the image, so I used PhotoViva to paint this myself with a few brushes. I have to say that I’m enjoying this app more and more. I find it easy to get immersed in the creative process when you have to make each brushstroke.
While the above image looks nice, I wanted to try something different, so I took the painting into Snapseed to see what would happen by working my magic. I added a little drama (#2), made a selective adjustment, added some warmth and ambience. It certainly adds more life to the image/painting…oh, lets just call it art. I like discovering new workflows and seeing the different outcomes.
I walked across Guadalupe yesterday with my phone to get a better feel for the town. Its a different experience than driving through because that takes all of 2 minutes. Half of the stores on the main drag were for rent and of the ones that were still operating, 80% only had Spanish on the signs in the windows.
I stopped at the cemetery to get a few pictures of the cool angels on headstones. Unfortunately, it was totally the wrong time of day. The light was not cooperating at all.
On the way back through town I saw three classic cars that have definitely seen better days. They were parked in front of an office for a car repair business. The angle of the sun and the rail in front of the cars prevented me from getting a great angle. I didn’t want my shadow cast on the car, but I still wanted to try and make the image work from a less flattering perspective.
When I see old, rusty objects, I want to bring out a lot of the grit and detail. It really makes the image pop to me. Normally I’d use ProHDR to start that workflow, but because of the quality of the light and lack of tripod, I chose to use camera+. Then I used the clarity filter, which is great for making your image pop, and I finished up by adding some drama in Snapseed.
I’ll be working on reviews for a couple of HDR apps today, and I think I’ll run this image through them to see how they handle it.
“Beauty in things exist in the mind which contemplates them.” -David Hume
I think I’ll start sharing quotes once in a while now because I’m a sucker for wisdom. Today I’ll start with Hume because I was a philosophy major once upon a time.
I know when I look at a scene like the original above I don’t see what most people see. I tend to see the potential drama of a scene that I can bring out with HDR and post processing. This is something that comes to you the more you shoot, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t visualize the final image ahead of time.
Of all the apps I’ve played with, I don’t think I use any feature more than the drama filter in Snapseed. It immediately makes most photos more dynamic and dramatic, 2 things that I’m always looking for. I’ve also found the tone mapping feature in FilterStorm to be a good way to make an image more dynamic. In this image, using both filters really brought drama to the sky and helped recreate what I saw when I took the photo.
Shot with ProHDR, edited with Snapseed and FilterStorm.