Catching Up: Hermione Visit Part 2

Not being one to complain, we’ll skip all the details about my Internet’s provider’s spotty service this week and get right to a post that is about six days late.

Regular readers may recall my earlier posting about the midnight arrival of the L’Hermione in Alexandria, Virginia about two weeks ago.  The vessel, is a replica of the French frigate that brought the Marquis de Lafayette to the American colonies during the Revolutionary War.  Details on its background can be found in my post here and in Patti’s “Displaced Beachbums” post here.

Hermione 11

The next morning, the public began to queue up for free tours aboard the ship.

Hermione 12

Channel 7 was on the scene.

Hermione 13

As were others who found the frigate a handy backdrop for themselves

Hermione 14

The gangplank wasn’t ADA compliant, but no one was complaining.

Hermione 15

Once aboard, you notice there are a lot of ropes everywhere.

Hermione 16

                Every rope (actually line) on the rigging has a function and a name,               such as the “mizzen topsail halyard.”

Hermione 17

There are two wheels, in front and in the rear (fore and aft, I believe).

Hermione 18

Everyone wanted to know what was underneath these hatches.

Hermione 19

Some more than others.

Hermione 20

 Some of the crew performed maintenance duty….

Hermione 08

and others charmed their guests by posing for pictures….

Hermione 21

and others kept alert for evil doers…

Hermione 23

with the help of local security forces.

L’hermonie will be in Philadelphia June 25-28, then will sail for New York City.  Details on the itinerary can be found here.

Keep Shooting….

The Hermione Arrives in Alexandria, Virginia

The French-built replica of the 18th Century tall ship L’Hermione, whose namesake brought the Marquis de Lafayette to America in 1778, tied up at the waterfront in Alexandria this morning, shortly after midnight, to the cheers of a small but enthusiastic crowd of well wishers.

Hermione 01

The Hermione Docks in Alexandria, 12:48 AM June 10, 2015

The replica, built with exacting detail to match the original frigate which played such a significant role in the American Revolutionary War, is on a  goodwill tour of  US cities on the east coast.  Details about the ship and its journey can be found at the excellent post by Patti on her “Displaced Beachbums” blog.

These photos were made under some rather difficult lighting situations.  The frigate, following a short stay at Mount Vernon, had to pass under the Wilson Bridge to reach Alexandria.  The draw bridge opens its spans for ship traffic only at midnight for about 15 minutes and only, from what I understand, about once a week or on special occasions. Sailing vessels must proceed through the gap under motor power so the sails had to be furled.  (By the way, I apologize to nautical experts for any mis-use of technical terminology–this is not a topic with which I can claim more than rudimentary knowledge).


Hermione 04Wilson Bridge opens for the Hermione  (12:04 AM)

There isn’t much ambient light at midnight, so the frigate is barely visible. (Nikon D800E on tripod with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, extended to 200mm; exposure: 1/4th sec. @ f/2.8, ISO 3200).

Hermione 03

The Hermione Draws Closer (12:12 AM)

Hermione 02

Turning for the Final Approach (12:23 AM)

The Hermione will be in Alexandria through June 12 and then departs for Annapolis.  I suspect it will be a midnight departure.

Keep Shooting…..

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

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……

ABFriday Forum Week 24

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 24 Dual Lead Image        After Post-Processing  Image                                   Original Before Image

This week’s After-Before Friday episode features a trip back in time and a shameless promotional message.  First up, the time travel segment which takes us back to the early days (at least for me) of digital photography.  It was way back in 2004 when, unlike Odysseus, I finally heeded the Sirens’ song of photography’s future and purchased a Nikon D70.

Let’s just say that immediate satisfaction was not my experience with this new medium.  Back then, I thought RAW meant something uncooked.  Fast Forward to the present and the challenge for this week:  pick an early specimen from my 2004 pathetic efforts and give it the 2014 Photoshop CC treatment.

The subject is probably familiar to many—the iconic Mont Saint-Michel on the Normandy coast of France. The image was taken about 2 months after the D70 was purchased.  Considered a reject at the time, the image had languished untouched on my hard drive until now.  A larger version of the original JPEG is shown below.  (Technical: Nikon D70, handheld, with a Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 lens extended to 50mm; exposure: 1400th sec @ f/10, ISO 200)

Robin Kent ABFriday Before Week 24

Original JPEG (sRGB) Image

Being a JPEG, the normal route for a RAW image was not available.  However, Photoshop CC has a Camera Raw Filter that provides the same tools. The screen capture below shows the adjustments made using this “filter.”  The adjustments are marked with red arrows.

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 24 Before Camera RAW

Adjustments in the Basic Settings Tab

The image still seemed flat, so I deployed the Gradient Filter, (see  magenta arrow). First, I dragged the cursor downward from the top (yellow arrow) to darken the sky. Next I dragged the cursor upward from the bottom (green arrow) for a second filter to darken the water.  The settings for both gradients are displayed on the right side (red arrows).

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 24 Before Gradient

Camera RAW Gradient Filter

 Finally, it seemed that a vignette would help focus the viewer’s attention on the central subject.  A comment on a previous ABFriday post had pointed out that Camera Raw has a vignette capability (I believe it was Emilio, correct me if I’m wrong) and so I thought I would give it a try.  While I still think I have more flexibility with shape and position using other tools in Photoshop itself, I have to admit this is pretty quick and easy.  I may have overdone it here, but a little practice will probably help.  The screen capture below shows the settings for the vignette tool which is located on the f/x tab (red arrow at top right).

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 24 Vignette

Camera Raw Vignette

That was it, and I believe the final image below t is an improvement over the original.  Comments and suggestions are most welcome. Thanks again to Stacy and the other contributors to the Forum.  Please check out the other submissions at this week’s ABFriday Forum Week 24

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 24 After Ver 2

Final Image

And now for the promised promotional segment.  If you haven’t already heard, the After-Before Friday Forum is in the midst of a hotly contested “election.”  Readers can vote for one of eleven “Before” images displayed at Stacy Ficher’s VisualVenturing blog.  The image with the most votes will be post-processed by 11 photographers who submitted those images.  The winning image will be announced on November 7th.  Then the 11 participants will all work feverishly on the same image and the 11 “After” results will be posted on November 14. Preliminary voting results “leaked” by the commissioner of the election indicate an extremely tight race among 3-4 of the candidates, but only she knows their identities.  So get over there and vote if you haven’t done so already.  The polls close at midnight EST on November 4th.

After-Before Friday Forum Week 22

Robin Kent Before Week 22 Giverny

Original Raw Image

Stacy Fischer’s blog VisualVenturing hosts the weekly After-Before Friday Forum that provides a unique opportunity for photographers to exchange ideas about post-processing their images.  There is always something new to learn from this exchange. This week’s Forum will be up later this morning and can be found here.

My submission for this week’s Forum was taken a few years ago in Claude Monet’s gardens in Giverny, France.  It was a cloudy day which can be really helpful for photographing flowers. But, as usual, the gardens were crowded with visitors so the best strategy was to search for individual blooms.  This little fellow was seemingly calling out for a portrait so I gave it a try.  The “Before” image above is the original RAW file with no adjustments.

A quick inspection indicates that, unless some special effects are being considered, the image does not seem to require any heroic measures.  The standard workflow began with the Adobe Camera Raw dialog window.     It seemed that the image needed to be a little darker overall to capture the mood of the cloudy day and also could use some added contrast.  The contrast slider by itself was too harsh, so after experimenting with a combination of the Whites, Blacks, Shadows, Highlights, and Contrast controls the most appealing combination resulted in the settings shown in the screen capture below.

Robin Kent Before 02A Week 22 Giverny

Adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw

 The changes were as follows:  Exposure decreased to – 0.40;  Contrast increased to +35;  Highlights decreased to -28;  Shadows decreased to -3;  Whites decreased to -15;          Blacks increased to +11;  Clarity increased to +24;  Vibrance increased to +27.  The resulting image is shown below.

 Robin Kent Before 02 Week 22 GivernyImage After Adobe Raw Adjustments

The image was then opened in Photoshop.  The only step remaining was to create a vignette to help bring the viewer’s attention to the central subject and give the image a little more depth (3-D effect?) to separate the subject from the background.  There are many ways to create a vignette and these were the steps I followed (see image below).

Robin Kent Before 03 Week 22 Giverny

I used the Elliptical Marquee tool to select an oval shape around the central flower, making sure the “Feather” was set for a high number (usually above 50 pixels).  But since the area to be darkened is everything outside the oval selection, the next step was to click on SelectàInverse.  (See yellow arrow) I next opened a Curves Adjustment Layer, set the Blend Mode to Multiply and the Opacity to 50%, and changed the layer name to “Vignette.”  (See red arrows).  The curves histogram was not changed from the default setting.  Depending on the effect you are looking for, there is a lot of flexibility by using the controls for feather in the selection and the amount of opacity in the layer.

The final result is shown in the image below.  As you can see, the difference with the vignette is quite subtle.  Thoughts from readers would be welcome.

Robin Kent After Week 22 Giverny

Final Image with Vignette Added

Once again thanks to Stacy Fisher for keeping the Forum on track.  The other submissions can be found at her Visual Venturing post here.  Please check them out.  And don’t miss this Forum next week; there will be a “twist” to the proceedings.   Stacy has sworn us all to secrecy, but it should be fun.

After-Before Friday Week 12

My submission to Stacy Fischer’s After-Before Friday Forum this week is from a recent trip to Paris (which is pretty obvious when one looks at the image).  I am often shooting cityscapes during twilight and one of the challenges in these circumstances is exposing for extremely bright lights scattered across an otherwise very dark scene.  Such was the case with this twilight image of the Eiffel Tower.  The problems are not so apparent when looking at the image in the small size here, but when printed at sizes of 24 inches-plus, a string of overexposed street lamps can be a little obnoxious.  My go-to tool (until I can find something better) for reducing the glare is the “Highlights” slider in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR).  The starting image is shown below and is the unprocessed RAW image with no changes.  I should add that the final image, shown at the end of this post is actually a Photomerge with one other image, which explains the slightly wider field of view.  But both images were treated the same.

ABFriday Kent Before Week 12

Original Image, Unprocessed RAW File

The two images were photographed at twilight and the numerous bright lights complicated the exposure because much of the scene was not well illuminated.  I chose an exposure that would provide at least some detail in the darker areas, knowing that further refinements could be made in ACR.  (Technical data: Nikon D800E on tripod with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens extended to 31mm; exposure: 5 sec. @ f/16, EV= -0.67, ISO 400). The small aperture was necessary to get a hyperfocal effect, maximizing the depth of field.  Although it is somewhat hard to see at the small size here, the street lamps, carousel lights, and the Eiffel Tower itself are somewhat blown out.

Once downloaded into ACR, a number of adjustments were made to compensate for the initial exposure. The results are shown in the image below.

ABFriday Kent Before 02A Week 12

The settings were as follows:

Highlights: decrease to -93 (an extreme decline to suppress the glare of the blown out lights)

Shadows: increase to +78 (also extreme, to open up the underexposed dark areas)

Clarity: Increase to +18

Vibrance: Increase to +25

The image above, given its size, may not clearly show the difference between the two images.  However, an enlarged detail section below showing the image before and after the ACR adjustments should help show the improvement.  The top section, the image prior to ACR adjustments, shows that in a larger print, the lights of the carousel, street

ABFriday Kent Before 03C Week 12

lights, vehicle lights, and the Eiffel Tower all have a harsh glare.  After the adjustments in ACR, the effect is less pronounced.  One last note; the “star effect” on the street lamps is a result of the chosen aperture (f/16), not a special filter.  In twilight scenes such as this, I find that this optical effect is more pleasing to the eye of the viewer than an unstructured flare around the bulb.

With the ACR adjustments finished, the image was photomerged with another that had received an identical treatment (for more on Photomerge techniques, check my post of August 1st here.)    There was a little clean-up work undertaken, but no major Photoshop steps after the merge were necessary. The final image is shown below.

ABFriday Kent After Week 12

Final Image

Again, I would to thank Stacy Fischer for keeping this forum running.  Please check out the excellent submissions by the other contributors at her Visual Venturing blog.

ABFriday Forum Week

AfterBeforeFriday Forum Week 7.

The AfterBefore Friday, launched and managed by Stacy Fischer of Visual Venturing gives readers an opportunity to exchange ideas about various post-processing techniques.  My submission for this week could be interpreted as a rescue attempt for a grossly underexposed image or an example of exposing for the highlights and processing for the shadows.

This image was taken last month at Les Invalides in Paris, best known as the burial site for many of France’s military heroes, including Napolean Bonaparte. It also houses the Musée de l’Armée and two other museums dealing with military topics.  None of that is shown in this image.  The throngs surrounding Napolean’s tomb and the spectacular altar behind it limited my photographic opportunities.

But off to the side, an unoccupied antechamber caught my interest.  The light coming through the blue stained glass window  was significantly brighter than anything else in the scene so getting a decent result would require some post-processing.  I remembered the ABFriday Forum and thought this could be a possible submission.   The “Before” image (shown just below) came out quite dark as expected, because the image was deliberately “underexposed” by 2 and 1/3 stops. (Nikon D800E with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens extended to 38mm; Exposure: 1/100th sec. @ f/5, ISO 400, EV =  -2.33)

ABFriday Before 01 Week 07 Portal 9381


RAW Image with no changes

Whether or not you like the final result, I would venture that this exercise does make a good case for the advantages of shooting in RAW.  After downloading, I made a number of changes in the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) converter. The adjustments were made in the following sequence:

Highlights reduced to -16 (to tone down the highlights in the window);

Shadows increased to +60 (to open up the deep shadows);

Clarity increased to +31 (about usual for me)

Vibrance increased to +51 (more than normal for me, but needed to bring up a golden tone in the dark stone walls surrounding the portal);

Saturation increased to +47 (I rarely use this slider but did so here for the same reason as the boost in Vibrance);

Overall exposure increased to +0.65 (this was done here rather than as a first step, because I felt I would have a more precise idea of what was needed);

Finally, I used an adjustment brush for exposure (set at -0.55) to eliminate the effect of the previous step on just the window. The result at this point is shown below.

ABFriday Before 02  week 07 Kent Portal 9381

The next phase involved Photoshop CC.  First, I used the Edit > Transform>Distort tool to eliminate some of the parallax effect.  It is not entirely gone, but no longer is very noticeable. Second, I selected the exterior section of arched wall surrounding the portal and lightened it with a layer adjustment (Curves, blend mode=luminosity).  Third, the floral design above the arch was selected and brightened with another layer adjustment (Curves, blend mode=normal).  Finally the edit->fill (content-aware) tool and the clone tool were used to remove the small black object in the lower left and also the rope and stand inside the antechamber.  The reason for removing the latter was to make the entrance seem more inviting.  The final result is shown below.

ABFriday After 01 Week 07 Portal Kent 9381