Cherry Blossoms–Now?

Things are moving fast down at the Tidal Basin.  The partial eclipse at dawn on Saturday was a bust because of clouds, but there was a full moon rise that evening, and the Cherry Blossom Festival decided to launch a bunch of fireworks at about the same time.  .So of course I went down to practice my Fireworks-Moonrise-Jefferson Memorial-Night Scene technique.  The image below is the result.

Jefferson Fireworks

Moonrise and Fireworks, Jefferson Memorial

I’m not sure when I’ll get another chance at this combination, so I’ll have to be satisfied with this one unless I want to cheat.

On Sunday morning I returned for another moon image, this time the setting moon with the Jefferson which would also give me a chance to check on the status of the cherry blossoms. Even in the pre-dawn twilight it was obvious that they had been busy that night because there was a pink cast to the trees that had been absent the day before.  It’s hard to see in the small image below, but the so-called “indicator tree” that is typically a few days ahead of all the others was indicating good things were coming soon.  There were 9,000 people attending a sunrise church service on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial but there was hardly anyone around the Jefferson Memorial.

Jefferson Moonset 01

Setting Moon at Dawn, April 5

I returned again this morning and found the walkways were still virtually deserted.   However, there was an incredibly long line waiting for admission to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing which was fine with me. The pink tone in the trees was much stronger and the lack of wind before sunrise enabled some nice reflections.

Tidal Basin 02

Tidal Basin, 10 Minutes before Sunrise, April 6

Tidal Basin 01

Tidal Basin, 30 Minutes after Sunrise, April 6

Today was quite warm so there should be further progress on Tuesday.  The forecast for Tuesday calls for some rain and cloudy weather but a while back I stupidly made a morning dental appointment for this day.  But I’ll definitely be back there on Wednesday, rain or shine.

Cherry Blossoms–Not Yet!

Although the cherry blossoms have yet to  fully awaken, there are plenty of other photographic opportunities right now in Washington, DC.

At sunrise two days ago, the tidal basin was almost completely deserted.   The sky was clear which means you can get the shot below as the sun clears the horizon.

Jefferson Sunrise 02

Sunrise, April 2, 2015

At sunrise the  next day, rain clouds were coming in from the west but there were some openings in the eastern sky.  Again, the tidal basin was deserted.

Jefferson Sunrise

Sunrise, April 3, 2015

The rain started within an hour after the image above was taken but it was a light rain so I checked out the status of the pink magnolia trees in Rawlins Park (E Street, Foggy Bottom) that usually are open before the cherry blossoms.

Tulip Trees 01

Afternoon Rain Shower, Rawlins Park

Tulip Trees 02

Magnolia, Rawlins Square

Tulip Trees 03

Magnolia, Rawlins Square

While photographing the square, I noticed some white magnolias across the street at the Red Cross National Headquarters (20th and E Streets NW).  A quick check showed that an evening shot might be worthwhile.

Red Cross 01

Evening, Red Cross Headquarters

This morning, I checked out the Enid Haupt Garden at the Smithsonian Castle on Independence Avenue.

Tulip Trees 05

Morning, April 4, 2015

If you want to photograph these trees, don’t delay.  They go quickly and inclement weather is forecast for mid-week.You can also find them in the Sculpture Garden (National Gallery of Art) and at the George Mason Memorial near the Jefferson Memorial.

OnePhotoFocus (April)

Update (April 10, 2015):   The winner of the quiz is Janice Foreman and here are the details of all the steps shown below:

  1. Starting from the original in Photoshop, the first step used the “Replace Color” tool. This is found by Image–>Adjustments–>Replace Color.  The settings in the dialog box were not recorded.
  2. Next, a sort of spotlight was added in the upper left corner, using the “Lighting Effects” tool. This is found by Filter–>Render—>Lighting Effects. The type of effect was “Spot.”  There are 7 or 8 controls in this dialog box plus a capability to rotate the overall effect.  A fun but dangerous tool in the hands of the inexperienced as you saw from the results of Step 2.
  3. The scene was reversed using the “Flip Canvas” tool. This is found by Image–>Rotate Canvas–>Flip Canvas Horizontal.
  4. To brighten the very dark results of Step 2, the standard technique of Layer–>New Adjustment Layer–>Curves was applied.
  5. To add a psychedelic touch along the roof’s rain gutter and the steps, I went for Filter–>Liquify.  Another dangerous tool that can easily run amuck.
  6. Still unhappy with the overall darkness, I threw a Hail Mary pass and employed Filter–>Stylize–>Trace Contour.
  7. Now I had the opposite problem, it was too light. So I relied on the familiar “Curves” tool, this time to darken the image: Layer–>New Adjustment Layers–>Curves..

This is the first Friday of the month and now that we are safely past April Fool’s Day, it is time for Stacy’s gang of post-production protagonists to focus their talents on the same image.  First, it would be appropriate to thank Cee for providing one of her images for whatever purpose the participants may choose.  It may also be necessary for me to apologize for what happened to that image inside my computer.  I hope she will forgive me, because my intentions were honorable.

My enthusiasm was so great this week that I neglected to take precise notes on what happened.  However, I did manage to remember what tools were used, if not precisely how.  Those with a competitive spirit  are welcome to take the “Pop Quiz” at the end.  The top score wins a prize (some conditions apply).

The first hint for the Photoshop Quiz is that I did not use the Adobe Camera Raw window, the image was opened directly in Photoshop and looked like this.

2015 04 01 PhotoFocus Before

 Original Image

My first thought was this could use a little more color, and so I tried a technique I have never used before.  It worked pretty well.  So well, in fact, that I used it three more times.  The result after the 4th application is shown below.

2015 04 01 PhotoFocus Before 01

After Step 1

Some might say that I had already gone too far, but when you are in unexplored territory, why go back?  So I took a new direction and tried a totally different tool.  The result is shown below.  Those who are studying for the quiz deserve to know that while the tool was applied to the entire image, the key effect can be seen (major hint) in the upper left corner.

2015 04 01 PhotoFocus Before 02

After Step 2

The next step was something I had intended to do all along so I executed that maneuver so I could then proceed to deal with the damage I had done in Step 2.  The result is shown below.

2015 04 01 PhotoFocus Before 03

After Step 3

I think everyone will agree that Step 2 made things too dark, so I fell back on a tool I use in almost every image (hint) and the result is shown below.

2015 04 01 PhotoFocus Before 04

After Step 4

Now that the colors were a little better, it seemed like a little instability would be consistent with the radical color scheme.  Another tool I have used on only one occasion (a fashion shot) was pulled out and deployed in a relatively conservative manner.  Check the steps, the rain gutter, and a few other spots to see what happened.

2015 04 01 PhotoFocus Before 05

After Step 5

Should I stop here?  Of course not.  It’s still too dark.  Plus, there are so many tools I’ve never used in Photoshop, we should go for at least one more.  However, as you will see from the image below, you will usually be surprised when you have no idea of what you are doing.

2015 04 01 PhotoFocus Before 06

Step 6

Yikes!    Stacy, we have a problem!

In a desperate attempt to salvage something without the humiliation of retreating, I used a familiar technique that resulted in the image below.

2015 04 01 PhotoFocus After

 Step 7 (Final Image)

OK, for those few who might still be here, you have the option of going directly to Comments and expressing your outrage, or you can take a stab at the quiz.

Quiz Rules: A total of five major tools were used to arrive at this final image.  One tool was used twice (Steps 4 and 7).  The challenge is to:

  • Identify the tool sequence (e.g., “Image–>Auto Contrast”) as best you can for any given step.  Had this example been a correct one, the two correct steps would count as two points.  Something like “Image–>Mode–>Grayscale” would be awarded one point, because the first part was correct.

Clear as mud?  It gets worse. Anyone scoring a minimum of 3 points will be in the “Zone of Consideration” for the prize.  The top score among those in the Zone will be awarded a copy of my self-published photography book (softcover edition) “Washington, D.C.” Answers are due by 0800 EST on April 7 and can be placed in the Comments section or via email to info@photographybykent.com.

In addition to all of that, please head over to Stacy Fischer’s site and check out what are almost certainly better efforts at this week’s OnePhoto Focus.