Running... Again?

  If you know me you know there was a time about 10 years ago or so where I was running. A lot. At least 5 days a week and at least 5 miles a run. I wasn’t training, I wasn’t preparing for a race or a marathon. I just found myself enjoying the time spent running. I wasn’t obsessed with numbers, but I kept track of them all and liked seeing improvements in time and distances. It was good physical health and mental health. Then I tweaked my knee. Not bad enough that I couldn’t walk on it, just a tweak that told me I needed to back off of running for a little bit. So I decided on 2 weeks. At the end of 2 weeks I aborted a run very early as the pain was still there. 2 weeks became 3, became a month, became 5 years. 

The Path

Following the Footsteps
Continuing the black and white kick I'm on currently we have this sandy and fairly steep path down. The timing wasn't great, I'm here an hour before golden hour and with a very strong sun, so I had to frame accordingly. This is a river or creek (the maps go back and forth as to the naming) that merges with the ocean. At this point I'm about a half mile from the ocean, and with all that water with a strong sun there's a lot of glare.

One thing I've found when shooting under harsh lighting like this is that black and white can be better suited, especially at a beach area that has little in the way of color. Since I knew I was going to convert to black and white I had the camera in my custom mode to shoot a black and white JPG and a color RAW. With the camera black and white setting I have very little control over the outcome of the file, just contrast settings (+/- 2) so I use the setting mainly to "see" in black and white when taking the shot, then as a starting point when going to convert.

Out of Camera B&W JPG
This is what the black and white JPG file came out of the camera looking like, as a comparison. I opted to add in more contrast and detail to really accentuate the texture and look of the sand.

My processing of this photo was a little more hands on than I usually do. Apart from wanting to play up the texture and contrast of the sand I wanted to keep something I saw of the scene that I don't think the camera captured very well. Various areas of the sand kind of sparkled in the sun, which was kind of hard to see since the sparkle was having to compete with the sun light itself. So with the photo I put it through my series of Topaz Labs plugins (InFocus, Clarity, and Detail) then I used a plugin I forget I have more often than I use it, Topaz Star Effects.

I initially wrote Star Effects off as a fluff plugin when I first saw it, but under certain conditions it can add some useful effects. It basically looks for (or you can add) brighter areas and give them a star like effect. I wanted to bring back some of the sparkle I saw in the sand, so before going to black and white I ran it through Star Effects and dialed down the effect a lot. It's easy to go over board with this effect. It's most noticeable in the first picture on the right side around the shaded areas. You have control over what kind of star, the color of it, and the size of it. I went with small stars of the same color as the area they were found. That last part was important, I thought, to do before converting to black and white using OnOne to make sure colors were accurately converted. I think it turned out ok, but in hindsight it probably would have worked just as well had I done the sparkles last.


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