Category Archives: Photography

Sunrise, sunset, cliche Kodak moments?

sunrise-IMG_1499No matter how cliche one might consider a sunset photo, you have to admit they’re hard to resist.

No two sunsets, or in this case sunrises, are the same, even from one second to the next, one frame to the next.

I’m mostly awake at sunrise, but apparently today was one of the rare days I peeked outside at exactly the right time.

The sky was on fire, so I grabbed my camera, wrong lens and all, ran outside, and was able to snap off a couple of frames before the sky dramatically changed.

Looking just to the left of this view, I turned and caught the tail end of a flock of crows overhead.

Not a bad way to start the day!

sunrise-IMG_1501

Delicate Balance

This image was cropped to a square to ready it for a square greeting card design.

This image was cropped to a square to ready it to print a square greeting card.

A tiny flying insect that I called a “fairy-fly” landing on the flowering Nandina, aka Heavenly Bamboo, inspired me to do a quick photo shoot on my lunch hour last week.

“No matter the time you live, no matter who, or what you are, every one and every thing is in delicate balance.” Should I add typography to this image? What words? Different words? The jury is out. What do you think?

 

Analog Selfie circa 1984

analog-selfieSelfie may be the Oxford English Dictionary’s 2013 word of the year, but photographers were taking “selfies” long before Smartphones and tablets.

In fact, selfie’s have long been a subject of photographers, painters, writers, and artists of every ilk. Selfies are and always have been a means of self-realization, as well as self-expression.

In this 1980’s Throwback Thursday image, I was snapping a selfie before I realized. At the time I was photo editor of The Reporter, Moorpark College’s student run newspaper, and the image was part of a self-portrait series by John Grzywacz-Gray, photojournalism advisor to the Reporter.

Broaden your vision with panoramas and apps

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah takes on an other-worldly landscape, captured here in 11 different photos. I walked away from the computer for a couple of hours while Photoshop’s Photomerge toiled away. The composite yielded a file nearly a gigabyte in size with a remarkable amount of detail. The sweeping landscape’s curved edges may bother some, but, in my opinion they add to the drama.

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah takes on an other-worldly landscape, captured here in 11 different photos. I walked away from the computer for a couple of hours while Photoshop’s Photomerge toiled away. The composite yielded a file nearly a gigabyte in size with a remarkable amount of detail. The sweeping landscape’s curved edges may bother some, but, in my opinion they add to the drama.

Looking to make your images unique? Want to see things from a new perspective? Try experimenting with Photoshop’s Photomerge feature or AutoStitch app to combine numerous images into a single wide angle view. It’s all automated. Just select the images you want to merge, sit back, and let Photoshop do the rest.

buckwheat and beePerhaps you’re looking for something a little more retro. Thanks to the new digital cameras and Smartphones, we’re able to capture well-lit, sharp focus images, so what’s the big deal? Anyone can take “nice” pictures these days. So, let’s look at images differently and carefully mess them up like we used to do by accident.

After reviewing my photos of the busy bees, I realized that the plants they were all attracted to were buckwheat plants. So, I decided to grunge up the photo with an app and create the masking tape label with “B is for…”, surprise, not bee. Two apps were used in the creation of the photo—Pic Grunger and Labelbox.

Want to learn more about the phone apps? Check out former OCPW featured artist, Holly Higbee-Jansen’s Photographic Explorations. Here you’ll learn about Holly’s favorite phone apps, as well as online and in-person workshops and photography coaching.

Not Another Green Marble Background?

For a designer, creating a new look for a green marble background is like bringing out the old bell-bottoms and believing they look as cool as they did in 1969.

Filling a “simple” request can be not-so-simple if you make a lot of blind starts, like spending an hour hunting down an old CD filled with stock marble images, just to find they are in an outdated graphic format.

A second blind start—searching stock images—another hour easily wasted as I realized, why not create an original image? Not only can it be easy, but the price is right. We refurbished our kitchen a few years back, and while out searching for the right granite counter top, I took plenty of photographs of the various granite and marbles, but none were green. Take them into Photoshop, and with a couple of well placed clicks I was able to turn my images into perfectly suitable green marble backgrounds.

gold marble

This is the original photograph of the marble.

green marble

By applying levels to increase the image’s contrast, and then applying a hue and saturation effect, the result is this rich, green marble-like background.

There are only two steps to go from the original photograph of the gold marble to the green. First, I created an adjustment layer for “levels” to increase the image contrast. The adjustment layers are forgiving in that they allow you to manipulate the data at any time without destroying any of the original pixel information.

The second step is to create and adjustment layer for “hue and saturation.” There are three areas that can be changed within the H&S palette, but before changing anything, click on the “colorize” button. This extracts all the color from the image, assigning a default hue to all the pixels, while maintaining their original values.  Next, the hue slider cycles through the “rainbow” — ROY G. BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) — stop at the desired green hue. The saturation slider adds or subtracts color, and finally the bottom slider lightens or darkens the values.

Of course, to achieve the desired result might require additional steps, depending on the nature of the original image. You might want to add additional layers of color, transparency, contrast, and texture to create a unique effect.

If you want to create a library of backgrounds and textures, do it yourself. Textures exist everywhere, and for every photograph you take, you can manipulate it in an infinite number of ways.

With today’s image editing programs, you don’t have to mortgage your home or rent out your kids to afford amazing software. I’m currently experimenting with an app called Pixelmator, a $15 Photoshop wannabe, and after half an hour of playing (and they call it work), I can say it’s certainly worth the investment. In fact, I’d recommend Pixelmator to any of my beginning design students who have a newer Mac, but can’t afford Photoshop. This app works on my iMac, now that I’ve upgraded to Lion, but Pixelmator will work with OS10.6 or later. With a little coaxing, I could be persuaded to show and tell more about this cool app, Pixelmator.

Architecture and Graphic Design Play Off One Another

Montreal Condos

Condos on a small island strip in the middle of the St. Lawrence River.

Each time I travel I make new discoveries, and often, insights and inspiration comes only once I’m back home and have had a chance to unwind and process the whirlwind adventures.

On this trip which began on the St. Lawrence River in Montreal, Canada, I became particularly focused on the art and design in architecture (probably because there wasn’t much wildlife or sport activities in our itinerary). I found the range in age and architectural styles to be visually stimulating without appearing to end up in a hodge-podge of visual clutter. Continue reading

I’m a Photo Horder

unedited octopus

I was pretty sure that among the 200-some-odd photos I had taken, there had to be an octopus somewhere.

 

octopus, starfish

By opening up the shadow areas and toning down the highlights in iPhoto, the values are redistributed to more closely resemble the actual scene. However notice the reflection in the lower left quadrant of the screen.

In the small dark cavern, I would have completely missed the fact that the octopus was there at all had I not made the quick adjustments that open up the shadow details. I performed the adjusted preview in iPhoto on my Macintosh, but Microsoft’s comparable software is Windows Photo Gallery.

I learned lots of valuable lessons in photojournalism classes, many long forgotten, but a couple of lessons really stuck. Thirty years ago when, as students, we were advised to Shoot a lot, our biggest complaint was the cost of film.  Today, the cost of digital equipment pales when compared to film and processing costs, so I was surprised to learn that one of my companions on a day-long adventure to the Aquarium of the Pacific was throwing away photos after she previewed them on her iPhone, deciding they didn’t “turn out.” I wondered how it was possible to make such a quick decision about the images under such poor conditions and on such a small screen.

The next day, I showed my companion a rough edit slide show of my 230 images. I put them up on the big screen tv. She, on the other hand, had only 13 images, which we viewed on her iPhone. Granted she’s not a fanatic like me, and didn’t shoot as much as I did, but I can’t help by thinking about the photos she threw away. “What if there were details in the image that she missed on the small preview screen?” I wondered. “What if she could adjust her lighting after the fact?”

The reflection in the previous images has been replaced using the “content-aware” feature in Photoshop.

My first task after downloading photos to the computer is to make preliminary adjustments to the tonal values in the images. It’s a relatively “quick” and painless process, and I finished this batch in about 2 hours, or about 30 seconds per image. Unless you are serious about photography, you might unwittingly skip this most critical step, so that’s where the hording comes in to play. Don’t throw away any photos before you perform a quick adjustment to the image’s tonal values.

In the edited photo, the reflection in the lower left is more obvious than before, so I bring my photos into Adobe Photoshop where I make all the actual refinements and adjustments. To eliminate the glare, I made a feathered rectangular selection and filled the area using the “content-aware”  feature, which gathers data from nearby pixels to simulate the surroundings.

Cleveland Airport Layover

Dr. Gino

“Oh my, is he serious?”

As we approached our gate, I couldn’t help but be struck dumb by the goofy looking dentist in the billboard posted directly across from Gate 20C. Enough to stop me in my tracks, I read the headline, and grabbed my husband, Bob, by his shirtsleeve. “Is it just me?” I asked Bob. He saw the sign, and we looked at each other. After having a good chuckle, we took seats waiting at the gate, where I attempted to test my new camera equipment.

In all likelihood, as a graphic designer and teacher of design, I am not your typical observer, but I was a captive audience during a five-hour layover. Let’s just say I had a lot of time on my hands. The poor airport gate agents had to stare at Dr. Gino’s new ‘doo day after day.

“Uh, he’s not working on my teeth.”

One of the agents walked over to a small group of us who were being entertained by the reactions of the rushing travelers. “Do you think we should call him?” the agent asked the group. Several passengers gathered around the sign, and the three agents pondered over the dilemma. Should they, or shouldn’t they call Dr. Gino and warn him about the ruckus his sign is causing?

“Yes, but perhaps that was his intention? It could be a genius marketing plan,” a female agent suggested. “Look at all the people who are drawn to the ad and are talking about it.”

Passersby were surely gawking and talking about Dr. Gino. Maybe they’re still talking today.

“Honey, you’re not going to believe this.”

Airline passengers pass the time people-watching at a busy airport terminal where a billboard greeted arriving and departing travelers.

Discoveries

There’s nothing like a trip out of the country, and then getting snapped back into reality to help one see the forest once again. More reflections later. Here’s hoping the trees won’t be in the way.

boy with ice cream cone

One of these days, I’ve got to learn my Manual settings! But that means I have to be able to Focus. And that means I have to be able to See! What will I do?