One Four Challenge – Oct Wk 1

Its 8.42pm on Sunday night, I got woken up by the screaming baby next door at 1am and again 2am and I am really too tired to think right now.

So here is my image for the Oct One Four Challenge, a handsome young duckling who posed very nicely for me in Hanmer a few years ago, a bit bigger and older than you normally capture ducklings but still cute and fluffy.

For those new to the Challenge – details are here

This has been edited in LR with the usual suspects, exposure, WB, contrast, whites, blacks, clarity and vibrance.  This image will provide the basis for the future edits for the rest of this month.

Isn’t he a cutie?

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One Photo Focus – October

Click to embiggen

For the October One Photo Focus Challenge we have a lovely peaceful scene – not sure if its seaside or lakeside – from Michelle Lunato – thanks Michelle for a fun image!

If you are new to the 1PF Challenge or to view the other awesome entries – CLICK HERE

While I was considering my options the sparkles on the water caught my attention and that gave me the focus for editing this image.  I wanted it to feel late on a summers day, its been hot all day and the sun is starting to go down, and its nice to sit, dangling your feet in the cool water, with a nice cold drink beside you :)

Given I have spent so much time playing in Photoshop, I wanted to give this image a proper photography treatment, so this is all done in LR6 with no fancy stuff :)

Post Processing Steps:

1.  Straighten horison, fix perspective tilt and crop to the edge of the building and up a bit from the bottom

2.  Adjust WB to warm up image

3.  Adjust global settings, bringing shadows ALL the way up to bring out the details in the buildings and boats on the shore

4.  Add a touch of clarity and vibrancy

5.  +22 Dehaze setting

6.  Play with presets, using Maasai Split tone to add some overall golden warmth to the image

7.  Use a .9 stop soft grad and CPL preset to balance out the brightness in the sky

8.  Add a soft vignette to finish

Here is a slideshow of the two images for comparison

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This was a fun image to edit as it was challenging enough that you really had to work at it a bit to get the best out of it, and was a really good showcase for why shooting in RAW is recommended.

Like it?  Don’t?  Tell me about it!

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Why do I use RAW file format?

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A lot has changed in technology in the last few years since I took up photography – Lightroom 3 had just been released and it was a significant improvement on the previous version.  Once I got my hands on a copy, and a book to learn how to use it, I immediately saw the benefit in shooting in RAW format.

A picture says a thousand words and the slideshow above is a great example – one image is a tiger cub playing at Melbourne zoo taken in 2010.  Its really dark and hard to see any details and back when I tried to edit it, both my skills and the software weren’t quite up to the task.  So I never bothered with working on these images.

Cue 2015 and Lightroom 6 is released.  Plus I have had many more years experienced working with the software and have invested time proper education as well.  Now I see there *is* potential in this image – there is light beaming down on the face of the cub, the fact the background is dark is now seen as a bonus, careful cropping highlights the subject and now it is an image I really like, and am pleased to have in my porfolio.

The key thing here though, is that I shot the original in RAW, so it retained all the file information needed so that Lightroom could be used to edit it, pull out the highlights, brighten the shadows, change the white balance, do some local adjustments to the face with clarity and exposure.

Many people complain that RAW files are a pain to work with.  They take up LOADS of space and you need to have sufficient space to store them long term.  Plus you have to edit every image you want to use to be able to see it at is best.  Both quite valid points and justifiable reasons, no question there.

But to be able to take an image that looks like it should be deleted, and make something good out of it?  Or take an image that had OK lighting and make it better or taking an excellent image and making it the best it could be?  If storage space and time is the price I have to pay to get the best out of my images, then I am OK with that :)


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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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All of these examples have ONLY been edited in Lightroom 5 or 6. 

Edit: The image in the unedited version is a different frame shot before the one in the edited version – I didn’t want to reset my editing on the finished images and for the example purposes used here, I didn’t think anyone would be too bothered by it.

There is no Photoshop here – these examples show what can be done with a RAW file and a conversion program.

There are lots of different options for RAW conversion software – I picked Lightroom because it was affordable and there were lots of people teaching it, so it was easy to get books or find online tutorials.

Do you use RAW?  If not, why not?


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Kitten Scribbles – more Lines Action

Home sick today with a cold and not really up to any major editing work, so decided to play again with the Lines action.  Click  image to see big size with more detail.

This is  a photo of my kitten Cognac , hard to think he is 2 now and much bigger and fluffier!

I used Style 1 of the Lines action, dodged and burned a little and added a JaiJ grad background for some colour interest – this time leaving the scribbled part as black and white, which is the default but you have the ability to add the original image colours back in if required.

The action is quite flexible and adaptable once you can figure out what layer you need to adjust in the stack of around 100 of them!

Like it?  Dont?  Tell me ALL about it!

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One Four Challenge – Sept Wk 4

Now its the last week of September’s One Four Challenge, when we save the best until last!

(If you are new to the One Four Challenge click here)

Except I kinda pulled the rabbit out of the hat last week with my painted variation and I was really stuck as to how to do something unique.  Watercolour effect?  BTDT.  What else could I do?

There is an australian artist called Seven Styles who makes amazing Photoshop Actions, and one I have seen used to excellent effect was the Lines action.  So yes, dear readers, I purchased it.

Actions are a bit of a mystery to me, I have used a couple of small ones but this is incredible, three folders with probably about 100 layers plus a dedicated brush set and FIVE different action styles to choose from!

I ran all five of them and this was the last one.  I also watched his How To video which is ESSENTIAL for figuring out how to tweak the image so that it can be adjusted or improved.

Post Processing Steps:

1.  Ran Lines Action Style 5

2.  Added a layer under the Lines folder and brushed in some more lines in areas it was a bit light

3.  Experimented with duplicating some laters and found the Edge Detail layer worked well and duplicated it twice.

4.  Finally decided that the white background was BORING and it needed some colour, so added JaiJ Soulful Sea Breeze as a background

For comparison here is the original version on white:

Click on either image for the large version to view the fine detail

So lovely readers, your feedback is welcomed – Like it?  Don’t Like it?

Tell Me All About It!


Posted in LR & Photoshop, Photo Challenges | Tagged , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Arabian Foal Background Replacement

Today I spent some more time experimenting with extracting images and replacing the backgrounds.

This has been a very valuable learning experience as it taught me to pay attention to the small details like:

– white balance
– colour
– tonality
– direction of light

If you are going to replace a background and have it look not obviously fake then these are really important elements to be aware of.  The lighting one is a key one, I see a lot of image composites where each individual part is lit from a different angle, with a different colour tone.

This image is a week old purebred arabian foal.  I extracted with ReMask and then ran through Impression for a softer painterly look to suit the background.

Background was duplicated and used as an overlay (Hardlight around 30%) just to enrich the colours and tone down the very bright areas on the sides of the foal.

Click image for larger size.

All feedback and comments welcome – Tell me all about it!

Tomorrow there will be Steampunk Photos

Posted in Waffle and Burbling | 3 Comments

Replacement Background Experimentation

Excatly the same swan splash landing image on two different backgrounds.  I learnt a valuable lesson with this experiment about matching the white balance and colour tones of an image to the background.

Let me just extol the virtues of Topaz ReMask 5 – I have been putting it through its paces on the 30 day demo, and I have to confess, I am going to purchase this software.  It makes selecting an item SO MUCH EASIER and FASTER and oddly does really well on the more difficult elements, like smoke, steam or water splashes.

The first variation I did was with one of the new Jai Johnson backgrounds – I bought her Autumn Textures pack and am in love with the deep rich colours and wonderful textural variations.

I chose the rich orange and gold background because of the implied water texture which suited the image of the cob swan landing agressively near me, trying to scare me away from his pond (so long as I stayed away from the very edge he was satisfied).  But as you can see, the cooler blue tones of the swan and water really didn’t work together that well.

Good news is there was a much more suitable texture with a strong water theme on the Daily Textures site where they are available for individual purchase.  I acquired six more in neutral and cooler tones to complement the warmer autumn ones.

Second variation is the new blue Rough Seas background instead of the warm gold and it is a MUCH better match!

I should still do some work around the edges to blend them in a bit better, still working out that technique.  This is a very different style for me, as I have not had the ability to do an accurate clean extraction of an image before and attempt a background replacement.  Its not necessarily something I would do all the time but a really useful tool to have available to me.  Messy or intrusive backgrounds are the most annoying thing about photography, so having an option like this is very nice.

Click on either image for large size view

Like it?  Don’t like it? Tell Me All About It!

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