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Showing posts from December, 2013

Holiday Lights

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This is the Carson Mansion in Old Town Eureka. I can't imagine the work that must be done in hanging all these lights on the house. The shot is a 7 shot HDR and will more than likely grace Christmas cards next year, so act surprised. I find shooting houses with lights like this to be tricky. You wouldn't think it, but those little lights can easily overwhelm a photo. And waiting for complete darkness is a mistake. The HDRing does a decent job of keeping them in check while bringing out the other parts of the house. The large star was actually the moon, but it didn't come out very well, so a little star burst was added. I think it worked well since it will probably be made into a card. The lighting of the area was with some horrible, but probably historically correct, yellow lighting that was a challenge both in shooting and in processing. RAW files help a lot, and the ability to paint in white balance corrections, especially in the walkway, really helped out.

I hope every…

Coming In at Sunset

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This was one of those times where I was planning on shooting something else but stumbled across this. My head was wrapped around the shooting of the other site that I wasn't really thinking too much about how to shoot this. For example, it didn't dawn on me until post processing that the floating dock I was on, well, floats and is susceptible to up and down motions. So though the tripod helped for some kinds of motions (my jittery hands) it didn't do anything for the floating up and downs. And of course I turned off image stabilization, like I think you should, when shooting on a tripod. This is a 7 shot HDR, and the negative exposures, since they have faster shutter speeds, didn't show the bobbing effect of the longer exposures. This is where having a good input sharpener comes in handy. Topaz Labs InFocus really did the trick for this, especially when there are so many masts in contrast to the sky.

This shot was a longer process as I took care of noise and sharpened…

Weekly Photo Projects, Week 50

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Wow! Only 2 more assignments left! This week was bokeh. The effect is most noticeable in the lights, the scary dude on the left is Santa (believe it or not) and was used as a focus point for the camera. I liked the point of view of this shot, which was basically from ground level looking up.

After spending an inordinate amount of time trying to make a bad shot into a good one (you'd think I'd have learned that lesson by now) I went back to the archives. Market Street in San Francisco from Justin Herman Plaza. I really like the sharpness of this photo and the chance I got to play with the Panasonic 20mm F1.7 lens. It's a great little lens, emphasis on little because it's a pancake lens. The only downside to this and the new mark II version is that autofocus is slow.

Christmas Tree

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For the first time in awhile I'm having a Christmas tree. And not a fake tree but a full on Douglas Fir. So of course I had to take a shot of it and give it the HDR treatment. I generally try to show a photo how I see a scene, but in this one I definitely crossed that line into, I guess, art? Saturated colors, light flares, and some liberties with the physics of lights and shadows. But aren't the holidays supposed to be a magical time of year? But if you think my version of the tree is a little much, you should see what Google+ did with it and it's #autoawesome twinkle.

Give it a minute to load if it hasn't already and you'll see some twinkling working their way through the tree. Thankfully this version is toned down from some other versions which had every light on the tree twinkling.

Star Effects

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Some plugins I don't use nearly as often as maybe I should. And, quite frankly, there are some I forget I have, except in those few instances where I see a shot and think such and such plugin will really spice things up. That's the case with +Topaz LabsStar Effects. It's not a plug-in I use daily, but when a shot comes up with the right features, it can be a lot of fun.

Basically Star Effects adds some oomph to your light sources. Think of it as bling for your lights. And you can control just how much oomph there is. As you can see in the photos above I think I went for a more subtle look. So how does it work? When you bring a photo into Star Effects it looks for light sources and marks them. You can control the threshold for what is and is not a lightsource, or you can paint them in or out. Then you can choose from various presets the look and flare of your stars. Everything from the type of star, halo effect, number of points, size, and color are adjustable. What I thou…

Weekly Photo Projects, Week 49

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Glass was the theme for the black and white project. I find that Clarity by +Topaz Labs does some wonderful things to glass, making it seem more clear and clean. Really glad I decided to see what it could do to this photo.

I really didn't know what I was going to shoot for +Weekly Photo Project 2013 and our theme of Smiles. I had my Moto X out and ready to shoot random people, but it didn't really work out. Plus I felt like a total creeper. So instead I found a Christmas tree ornament that fit the bill nicely.

Separated

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First the big news. For 2014 I've gotten together with +Scott Davenport (of Scott Davenport Photo fame), +Julianne Bockius, and +Andrew Willard to run another 52 week project, +The Patch - PhotogrAphy Themed CHallenge. We're taking the theme idea and tweaking it a little with weekly themes that are related to a monthly theme. There will also be a monthly contest with the winner receiving a +Topaz Labs plug-in of their choice. Come by and check us out.

Now about the photo. I'm liking borders on my black and white photos recently, but not so much on my color shots. I'm thinking part of the reason is it's easier for the border to blend into the photo when the border and photo are made up of blacks and whites. That way the border isn't too overbearing and easily compliments the photo. I have some plugins that allow me to change border colors, but I have a hard enough time matching my clothes nevermind border colors. I'm hoping to get my annual top 5 photos of …

Ordering and Receiving the Republic Wireless X

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Due to an initial hiccup with ordering that was my fault, I ordered the second day the Moto X became available. The process isn't any different with Republic Wireless than with any other cell phone order. Oh, except you don't have to give them every piece of information needed when opening an account with AT&T or Verizon. Just name and address for shipping and billing, a valid credit card, and your choice of phone and initial plan choice. I will say that from within the Republic Wireless support forums there was some miscommunication from RW staff about whether phones would be in customer hands in 5-7 days or shipped in 5-7 days. Mine was shipped in 7 days. I suspect that the 5-7 day window is in place currently as a safety window for RW to handle what one would hope is a lot of orders.

So enough with the ordering talk, let's get to the star. A quick primer on the Moto X that applies to all carrier flavors. 4.7" 1280 by 720 AMOLED screen. Ten megapixel camera and…

Weekly Photo Projects, Week 48

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First thing's first, if you're looking for some editing tools checkout my earlier post about the Topaz Labs collection and their sale good through today (Monday 12/2).

For week 48 our theme for my black and white theme was symmetry. I went looking for symmetry in nature but wasn't finding anything that caught my eye. So how about a seemingly empty and abandoned section of highway? That works for me. So where was everyone? The shot was taken on Black Friday, which in America draws the multitudes to malls and shopping centers. The shot kind of has a Walking Dead feel to it, which I like.

The theme for +Weekly Photo Project 2013 was plants or flowers, not a real interesting theme when we're in the thick of winter. But I did come across these berries that at least make for a colorful photo.


You can view my Weekly Photo Project album here.
My black & white project album here.