One Photo Focus–June (and More!)

This week markes the first anniversary of Stacy Fischer’s ABFriday Forum and I’d like to take the oppportunity to congratulate Stacy on the fantastic effort she has given over the past 52 weeks.  As usual on the first Friday of the month, the ABFriday gang will all be working on the same image.  And this month, the image is being provided by none other than Stacy herself.  It will be very interesting to see how each participant handles the challenge, and you can find links to all of them by clicking on VisualVenturing.com.

This post also has a totally unrelated second story below abou a couple of my favorite bridges.

But first, the starting image for One Photo Focus is shown below,and  will be instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with the exclamation: “Shazbot!”  Yes, the house is the very structure that served as home base for the famed TV couple, “Mork and Mindy.”

2015 06 01A Before

Contrary to the approach I have followed in recent ABFriday events, I decided to play it straight this week, so the steps were quite straightforward and do not need to be shown in step-by-step fashion.  I used Adobe Camera RAW to correct much of the overexposure, then opened the image in Photoshop, removed the dirt piles wioth the Clone Tool, and added two Curves Adjustment Layers to fine tune the contrast and eliminate the remaining overexposure on the Queen Anne Tower.  The final touch was a modest gradient to furthen darken the sky (blend mode = soft light).  The final result is shown below. To check out the other submissions, go to Visual Venturing and you will see some really creative approaches.

2015 06 01A One Photo Focus Before 05A

The “After “Image

On a different subject, the normally boring subject of bridge repair made news this week, involving a bridge in Washington, D.C. and another in Paris, France.    But the news in both cases has significance to photographers because both structures are highly popular photographic subjects and therefore is worthy of some attention.

Memorial Bridge 01

 Memorial Bridge at Sunrise, View from Ohio Drive SW, Washington, DC

Here in Washington, The Arlington Memorial Bridge was discovered to have some serious structural deficiencies and a partial closure was abruptly implemented on May 29th.  One lane in each direction will be closed for 6-9 months while emergency repairs are made.  In addition, vehicles such as buses and trucks weighing over 10 tons will no longer be able to cross the bridge.  Details were reported by the Washington Post.   This is not a typical highway project, because the Memorial Bridge is considered by many to be the most beautiful bridge in Washington.

Memorial Bridge 02

Memorial Bridge at Dawn, View from Mount Vernon Trail, Virginia

Memorial Bridge 03

Moonrise, Memorial Bridge

 Three days later In Paris, city officials began dismantling the wire mesh railings of the Pont des Arts, a pedestrian bridge that has become famous for the so-called “love locks” attached by couples as a symbol of their love for each other.  Details on the event were reported worldwide, including the New York Times.

Pont des Arts 01

Pont des Arts in 2006 (No locks anywhere)

As the images above and below show, the Pont des Arts by itself is not particularly photogenic, but its proximity to the Institut de Paris (shown below) and the Louvre on the opposite side of the Seine makes it hard to resist.  The padlock craze began in 2008 and grew slowly at first.  When the 2010 image below was taken, it and one other pedestrian bridge had 2,000 locks in place which works out to just a lock or two per day.  But a few weeks after the 2010 image was taken, Paris officials announced the fad was getting out of hand.

Pont des Arts 02

Pont des Arts (on left) and the Institut de France in 2010

Pont des Arts 03

Pont des Arts, 2014

Four years later, the love-locks were everywhere.  More than 11 bridges in Paris were bulging with thousands of padlocks, with an estimated 700,000 on the Pont des Arts alone.  During our 2014 visit, one of the panels of the Pont des Arts collapsed from the weight of the locks (about 1,500 pounds). And it was just as bad at the Pont de l’Archevêché, near Notre Dame (see below)

Pont de l'Archvechet 01Pont de l'Archvechet 02

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pont de l’Archevêché in 2014

Perhaps urban hiking could benefit from a variation of the motto seen in the National Parks: “Take Only Photos, Leave Nothing Behind.”   But whatever you do……

Keep Shooting……

OnePhoto Focus–May 2015

Those of us who participate in the AFterBefore Friday Forum have full control over our destiny every week of the month—except the first week.  On this week, iInstead of choosing anything we want from our own images, we have the “opportunity” to work on a single image selected for us.  As the day approaches when the “Chosen One” is to be unveiled, this participant at least, has flashbacks to those days just before his final exams.  The eternal question: “What will be on the test?” looms ahead.

This week’s image was graciously provided by  Shane Francescut and when I saw it, I was speechless.  Well, not really, but I digress.  Let’s look at the image.

2015 05 01 PhotoFocus Before

Original Image

After some thinking, I thought I would take a different tack from last month when I subjected the provided image to a lengthy sequence of exotic Photoshop devices that caused formal protests from the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, and Green Peace.  This time it would be a quick and merciful coup de grace.  Or, in a nod to the theme of OnePhoto Focus, it would be done with “OnePhotoshop Tool.”

But I cheated.  I had the RAW version of Shane’s image and made the standard exposure adjustments in Adobe Camera that I make with almost every image.  The result and ACR settings are shown just below.

2015 05 01 PhotoFocus Before 02

Results of ACR Process

ACR Settings: Highlights: -100; Shadows: +100; Whites: +47; Blacks: -8; Clarity: +30; Vibrance: +30

Then, I opened an Adjustment Layer–>Curves (Blend Mode=Difference) and chose the Negative Preset. (Blue arrow in screen shot below). This has the effect of completely reversing the tonal distribution of the image.

2015 05 01 PhotoFocus Before 01A

Next, I set an anchor point on the diagonal line through the histogram and dragged the point left and down (red arrow).   The Preset Panel now reads “Custom” indicating I have made a change to the Preset previously chosen. The result is show below.

2015 05 01 PhotoFocus After

Fiunal Result

That’s it.  I kind of like it.  Anyway, it didn’t take long –Less than 2 minutes, counting the ACR steps.

Any thoughts, comments, or suggestions are appreciated.  But be sure to zip over to Visual Venturing to see what everyone else did.

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.

OnePhotoFocus-March 6, 2015

Today marks the unveiling of the third One Photo Focus Forum (say that 3 times fast), in which once a month, a volunteer army of photo-processing practitioners provides a wide range of interpretations of the same image.   Stacy Fischer, who has already demonstrated her extraordinary skill in herding cats with the AfterBefore Friday Forum, has stepped up to the next level of difficulty, known as loading frogs into a wheelbarrow. In doing so, she has gathered all of the interpretations into a single place for your viewing pleasure.  To see them all, click on her wheelbarrow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Original Image by Loré Dombaj

This week’s image (shown above) was submitted by Loré Dombaj and I must admit I was impressed by the challenge facing me.  Which is a nice way of saying I had no idea what to do.  So, I applied a common problem solving technique known as procrastination.  The Theory of Procrastination holds that the pressure of a short deadline will unleash one’s deeply buried creative power.

That didn’t work either.  But here are the steps I took, all in Photoshop CC.  First, I applied Robert Capa’s advice of getting closer and cropped off the top part of the image to concentrate on the section that was most interesting to me (image below). That one step changed the image from one that I liked to one that I liked a lot.  All of a sudden, the image is dominated by a tightly composed scene with a repeating circular pattern.  Plus, the dappled highlights are placed so perfectly that one is reminded of a painter who chooses where the light will be. The charming cherub is now rightfully the center of attention.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The principal objects in the photo (tables, cherub, and flower pot) all have a weathered, timeworn appearance that begged to be emphasized.  I called up the Filter Gallery and selected “Poster Edges.”  The screen capture is shown below. I adjusted the 3 sliders (red arrow) until I found the combination I liked and clicked OK.

2015 03 1 PhotoFocus Before 03

Photoshop CC Filter Gallery–Poster Edges

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAResult of Poster Edges Adjustment

The image was looking good, but it lacked warmth (see above).  A naked cherub wouldn’t be smiling if it was a cold day.  We should improve his mood with a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer.  I set the Saturation to +60 (red arrow) and left the blend mode at normal (yellow arrow).

2015 03 1 PhotoFocus Before 05A

Photoshop CC Hue/Saturation Layer

Insert After Final Image

The Final Image below includes the use of an Unsharp Mask with the settings as follows: Amount: 131%, Threshold: 1.1 pixels, Pixels: 0. I found that a small change in either of the first two sliders made an important difference, although it is very hard to see at this size.  In fact, the small size displayed here doesn’t do justice to the image; a lot of the subtlety captured by Loré disappears.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Voila!

Final observations:  It turns out that the results of the Filter Gallery steps will be quite different depending on the size of the image.  The first time, I used the filter gallery before downsizing the image to 1,000 pixels wide and that is what you are seeing here.  An experimental repeat with the image downsized to 1,000 before the application of the Poster Edges brought a different result, one that I felt was too coarse and not nearly as attractive.  This is an excellent example of why Workflow (the specific sequence of post-processing actions) is important.  The same actions, implemented in a different sequence, can produce different results.

At any rate, check out the other interpretations of this image at Stacy’s Visual Venturing site.

ABFriday Week 31- One Photo Focus

Week 31 After-Before (double)

                     After Image                                                    Before Image

The almost-famous ABFriday Forum begins the year 2015 with a special new feature, entitled “One Photo Focus.”  Here’s how it works: one week each month, all participants will impose their skills and if need be, their trickery on the same image.  The images for the next several months have already been submitted by the early adopters who have already signed up for this extravaganza.  The honor of  being the first in 2015 goes to Emilio Pasquale and he has presented us with an interesting challenge.  I  thought at first it was taken on the set for the chicken race scene in the movie “Rebel Without a Cause.”   I can’t wait to see what other interpretations will be unveiled today which can be found here.  Like all ABFriday posts, anyone can participate.  Guidelines can be found at Stacy Fischer’s Visual Venturing site.

Robin Kent Week 31 Before

 Emilio’s Original Challenge Image

Looking at the challenge image I could see (after the movie flashback) that it was quite dark (despite some strong shadows) and it lacked overall sharpness. This is not necessarily bad, but it does affect the directions one can choose in creating something that hopefully will have an impact.  And I suspect that Emilio didn’t want to make it too easy.  Anyway, it seemed that moving away from a photographic look toward a painterly style might be worthwhile.  In doing so, I learned that there is a dark side to Photoshop CC.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  The first step was to follow my normal workflow and run the original image through the RAW (ACR) process, adjusting contrast, tonality, and brightness.  The result is shown in the image below which evokes a sunny day that seemed consistent with the strong shadows in the original. The adjustments (some of

Week 31 Before 01

ACR Adjustments

them rather extreme) were intended to cut back on the bright highlights and open up the dark areas for greater detail.

Step 2 was to open the image in Photoshop and after routine and very minor clean-up, the Unsharp Filter was unleashed just to see what might happen.  The sharpness didn’t improve, but as the setting got more extreme, the image got more interesting (i.e., less photographic). The screen capture below shows the settings and the effect.

Week 31 Before 03

Unsharp Filter Applied

I’ve not done a lot of special effects work on images, but recently have been experimenting with the Filter Gallery in Photoshop.  So that seemed like a good place to start and I was pleasantly surprised to find an “Oil Paint” function in the drop-down menu under Filter (Filter–>Oil Paint).  What I did not know at the time was that I had accidentally opened Photoshop CS6  instead of the latest version of Photoshop CC.  So be aware that the following steps are not possible unless you have a copy of Photoshop CS6 or CS5. More on this later.

Like the Filter Gallery, the Oil Paint function opens the image in a full screen dialog window with the adjustment controls on the right side.  The screen capture shows the settings and a detail section of the effect.

SWeek 31 Before 04

Settings for Oil Paint Filter in Photoshop CS6

Week 31 Before 05

Image After Using the Oil Paint Filter

Just for fun,I took the idea one step farther, and used a black and white adjustment layer choosing the High Contrast Red Filter effect instead of the default option. The final image is shown below.  Immediately below the full image is a detail of a section of the image to show a little more clearly the effects of the Oil Paint Filter.  I would be interested in your thoughts on the color vs. the black and white versions.

Week 31 After FinalFinal Image

Week 31 After 01 Detail

Thanks again to Emilio Pasquale for his contribution to the First Edition of One Photo Focus.  And thanks to Stacy Fischer for organizing this project. To see what the others have done with Emilio’s image, please check out the Visual Venturing post at this location. And if the raging online controversy over Adobe’s removal of the oil paint filter piques your interest, just Google “Where is the Oil Paint Filter in Photoshop CC?”