These are the evenings I love. Photography is about taking pictures and June is the time when our club starts its summer season of outings. The nice thing about a club is they can get you places that are otherwise impossible. A kind word and 20 photographers will get you to things that a kind word never will.
Tuesday night had us in Victoria Square in Belfast, which because of its private nature is notoriously hard to get permission to photograph in (we’re talking tripods here, not compact cameras). Not only was permission granted, but we also got up into the dome in the dark for a great end to a fantastic night.
(and yes I know there is a lift up as well as the stairs, but I liked the word play and it reminded me of a book called “Above us only stars”)
On the way home from Austria I got the opportunity to spend the afternoon in Salzburg.
Last time I was there it was blue skies and warm winter sun. This time, not so much.
OK, so I could have taken photos of the fortress, or the cathedral, or any of the really beautiful buildings. But I liked this street. Also, at this point I was guessing – I’d no view finder of LCD on the camera so it really was just point and click….
Last weekend we went to the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh.
It being the 4th July, the crowds were mad. I took a few shots, but the weather and the crowds didn’t really help.
Last night was the first CPA outing for 2010. A trip to St. Malachys church in Belfast was organised
We got about 2 and a half hours in the church by ourselves to take photographs of the wonderful architecture and imagery. It’s a fantastic place and worth a visit whether you’re religious or not.
Unfortunately, extreme bad timing meant there was some repair work ongoing and part of the alter had scaffolding on it. This got me thinking about the detail though, so most of the night was spent with a macro lens.
Anyway, this is one of a few wider shots I took. Thanks to Frank for sitting still!
Learned a useful lesson last night. Don’t just check your camera and batteries before you leave the house. Check ALL the gear you’re bringing. I was setting up a shot and lost maybe 20 minutes and a several handfuls of hair before discovering one of my remote triggers was receiving signal from the camera but not actually triggering the flash.
I’m playing with a new add on for Photoshop (Well, new to me anyway).
I’ll put a write up about my thoughts with it later in the week, but I wanted to throw up an image now so I could look at it in the cold light of day and see what I think.
Sometimes with these things I can get a little target blind, seeing only what I want to see, not the actual picture as a whole. It’s good to reflect a little.
Anyway, this picture was originally taken in December 2007. It’s always been on my pile of “I wish it was better…”, it seemed like a good sample image for the new utility.
I’ve mentioned before that I love architecture in black and white. I think the lines are much more pronounced and the resulting image crisper in mono. Certainly, any I’ve taken always seem nicer when converted that way.
(f/8, 10mm, 1/6 sec)
This is one of those shots that’s maybe too wide. The distortion due to the 10mm range of the lens really emphasises the curves present in the building* but I quite liked it, or at least everything but the colours.
It ended up taking quite a long route in its journey to black and white, firstly converted to HDR and then pushed through photoshop using the Calculations tool. A little more curves and the unsharp mask later and…
In case you’re wondering, the original looked like this:
And no, I don’t like the colour.
*Victoria Square in Belfast is quite a new complex and quickly becoming one of my favourite places to visit. It gives space freely and the resultant openness means you never feel claustrophobic.
I’m slowly getting sucked into the world of Twitter.
What’s that got to do with photography you ask?
Well, honestly, it has nothing to do with photography. And kind of everything as well.
Anyway, ignoring the how’s and why’s of Twitter, in my last post I mentioned the image from Mount Stewart that was on the “how do I fix that” pile. Well, I was fiddling with it on Sunday and having an absolute nightmare with the sky being burned out.
(Short aside – shooting at twilight is great, unless it’s a blue sky day, then I find it really easy to burn out the sky when trying to capture the detail of the scene)
Anyway ,(sorry, lots of asides tonight), I was messing with the image and happened to twit/tweet/twiwhatever about the problem and a nice guy by the name of Sean replied offering his help.
I sent him the image(s) and he took a look at them and came up with a good recovery of the picture. He explains it in detail here.
I quite like his recovery – He seems to have kept more detail int he image, whilst recovering the sky.
Here’s my best attempt –
It’s not initially obvious in this version, but there is a lot of fringing or halo type effects going on where my masking isn’t up to scratch. Also, because I used an underexposed shot for this, there is a lot of noise when the image was recovered.
But apart from my mediocre masking, here’s the process I applied to get here.
Since I new the image would always end up as black and white (I seem to have a thing for architectural black and white shots) the first thing I did was convert the most underexposed version of the shot that I had. I created a duplicate layer of this and then increased the brightness on it before masking the sky through from the original.
The image was then flattened and shadows and highlights applied (Scott Kelby has done a major job convincing me this is a great thing in CS3 and, dammit, he’s right). Then a touch of localised dodging to bring the window back in got me as far as I could take it.
I guess the over-riding lesson is – get it right on the night and you’ll not have to spend your Sunday trying to fix stupid mistakes. Of course, if I’d got it right first time, I wouldn’t have got chatting with Sean.
Oh, and if you twit/tweet/twoot/twype, then this is me!