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Fiddling With A Guitar

The Boston weather is cool. The drive from Florida went well and was timely in that we missed the rain and wind associated with Hurricane/Tropical Storm Hermine. Yesterday afternoon we visited the Boston Museum of Fine Art and I shot several dozen images with the Panasonic GX-7 using the 20mm pancake lens. Last night, I worked on a guitar image taken in their music instrument gallery. I may play with it some more. A darker background may enhance the image. National Guitar

Fun With a Boat.

When the light is right even the mundane can look good.  Wandering the docks at the Municipal Marina the other night, I came up with this one: 240 Degrees-7317 The boat was on a lift-dock.  I liked the way the light interacted with the design elements of the bridge console.  The patch and clone stamp tools helped take the bird turds off the windscreen.      

St. Augustine Beach Scene

Topaz Impression is my current favorite among Photoshop plug-ins. I don’t go to it all the time, but some images just cry out for it. The problem with using a plug-in like Impression is that the better one becomes using it, the more images seem to beckon toward it. Every image has a limit beyond which our taste for it diminishes. Finding the sweet spot takes time and no two images can ever be treated exactly alike. This image, taken on St. Augustine Beach in late January seemed to call for Topaz Impression. The light was constantly changing – one minute warm and lovely; the next grey and somber with a dark, threatening sky. _1260864edit6906   I was captivated by the reflections of clouds in the wet sand. After some initial adjustments in Lightroom, a few more were made using Topaz Impression within Photoshop. Lastly, I cropped the image to a 16:9 aspect ratio.  (Check the article on Aspect Ratios in Landscape Photography by Elliot Hook on the Digital Photography School website.) I’m a newbie when it comes to having my work printed.  Trying to stay within the confines of standard frame sizes has proved trying. Should I crop as each image seems to call for and deal with custom framing? Or, is the image close enough, with matting, to work it into a standard size frame? We all have to make our own decisions regarding presentation, but here is a listing of the most popular frames which FrameUSA produces as standard:

Stamdard Frame Sizes

Accompanying Article

  MatDesigners has a useful chart giving suggested Opening Size by Mat Size.  
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Window Portrait

This image is one of my recent favorites.  On an evening walk, we came upon a woman sitting for a portrait in an artist's studio. The curtains weren't drawn and the setting seemed almost a continuation of the attached store-front art galleries that lined that side of the street.  I couldn't resist and pressed my rubber lens hood against the glass and shot with the 20mm lens (40mm equivalent) on my 4/3 Panasonic GX7. Window Portrait Compositionally, the unseen woman, whose image was being painted in, next to her husband on the canvas, didn't work.  She was on the far left and was cropped out.  I was left with a view of the back of the artist and the woman's husband (a guess) staring at me from the canvas.  On the first pass through Photoshop, responding to some sense of a privacy issue, I blurred the fellow's face.  Then, realizing that he was only a painting, took back the blur. Using a mixture of brush strokes and textures, I gave the the already warm image an artistic feel. Following up on a friend's paper suggestion, I had it printed 10"x10" on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

The Bear… or, a Liar Image

On a recent trip to Alaska… No, I’ve never been there.  It’s the only state that I’ve missed. This bear lived at Silver Springs, in Florda, several years ago. He appeared a tired old bear – perhaps suffering from depression and fenced in by electricy It was at the beginning of my adventure with Photoshop; and I remember as a learning exercise, removing the fence and other elements of captivity. This afternoon, after a large data transfer, I came upon ‘the Bear’ once again.  After a conversion to black and white, a bit of tweaking and some dodging and burning, I came up with this: Fear-2edit6674edit6675 It’s not a great image, but a bear is a frightening creature and I wouldn’t want to be within 50mm range.  
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Storm Sky

Storm SkyThis image was taken just before dark one hot, summer evening in 2007.  We were in north central Iowa having some work done on the rig. There was a storm brewing and though no sirens had sounded, tornado warnings had been posted. The sky was ominous. I took this photo standing on the roof of the rig; and while I pushed the saturation in this image, I did little else. As storm photos go, this is nothing spectacular but I’ve always liked the light and drama.

Rough Shape

  Rough Shape Photos can lie. The high-key treatment here gives the scene a desert-like feel. The original colored image was of higher contrast with a very different mood. I remember getting it to a certain point and stopping. The next day,  I looked at it again and decided that I had sharpened too much. Going back in, I twiddled a bit in Viveza pulling the structure down. Then, in Silver Efex Pro 2, made the conversion to black and white and lightened the sky with a blue filter -pushing it to 200%. Going to the Hue slider, I went back and forth for a while before finally settling at 271 degrees. A final brightness adjustment completed the job. A lot of experimenting went into this image. While I like the colored version, the black and white really wows me. I have an old Harper's Weekly on the desk with some Frederick Remington Illustrations. This image in it's final form mimics some of his work. I'm very pleased with it. It was a warm day and I was wandering far from where tourists usually venture.  The streets were empty and quiet as if the world had stopped for siesta. This is the kind of scene that, as photographers, we live for. I would like to have stayed for a week.
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Pinball

_1250965edit6852edit6853Walking in Brooklyn one night, I passed by a coin laundry and was able to capture this image.  I didn't shoot that much over the summer and this image is one of my favorites. (Again for some reason one must click on the image to get to a sharp, hi-res version. I'll check with tech support.)

Printing

Last Spring I resolved to do more printing and began with prints of Mandroid, the Cornets, Three Birds, and Nebraska Feed Mill. While away for the summer, I had none made. 20140112Thunder by the Bay125610This car shot I always liked. I took it at a Thunder by the Bay rally and remember shooting directly into the sun. The dark, flat grey paint softly reflected the light. I dropped in a black background and remember being wowed by the final result.  I’ll have it printed on soft paper. Though it lacks the refined line-up of a commercial shot, it has a nice feel to it. Since returning to Florida, I've had a few other things printed. One new one, Shredded Heart, I had printed on metallic paper as well as on a soft art paper. The metallic paper does give a wow factor and pops nicely when looking straight on. Viewed from the side, it seems to0 shallow out. The soft paper has a richer look because of the deeper ink penetration. I've decided to stay with that for these images. I've been using one called Torchon from Hahnemu (mit der umlaut) hle.

A Mask in Topaz Impression

If I threw away images that were less than perfect, my hard drive would be empty. What to work on is always the question.- choices, choices, choices. I’ve never felt a need to work only on current images.   This mask, a case in point, was shot in a museum some 18 months ago. The original image is nothing to rave about, but I decided to play with it and see what could be done.   Museum Mask_ Japan_original After building a good layer mask and dropping out the background, I added a couple of texture layers to ground the composition.  The filters that I normally use failed to divulge anything appealing. I decided to try Topaz Impression and told the program that I wanted to see all the possibilities. There were a lot. Thumbnails are displayed vertically and I busied myself on the down arrow key. After a couple of dozen possibilities, I hit this one: Museum Mask_japan_Final It’s dark, but nothing else seemed to work. I can see it on a wall in a dark corner - another Resurrection. This is like cooking to taste – there are a lot of tweaks. I tried this and that until the way was revealed. This one surprised me by taking me in a direction that I didn’t anticipate. The original carver modeled the mask after a face. I copied/photographed the mask and now present it in a different context and in a mood perhaps more fitting for the subject than the original's display case. I'll find a place for it - perhaps on a warehouse wall in some urban scene.