After Before Friday Forum Week 28

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 29 Before DualBREAKING NEWS:  In addition to this post today, I also have been given an opportunity to do a “guest post” on Leanne Cole’s blog entitled “Up for Discussion-Travel Photography.  Leanne is a fabulous photographer in Australia and if you haven’t checked her site before, please take a look.  The link is placed–for your convenience–at the end of this post.  And now back to our regularly scheduled Friday morning program.

By popular request, my submission to this week’s ABFriday Forum reveals the identity of one of the losing “Before”  images in the Reader’s Poll for the ABFriday Anniversary Challenge for Week 26.    The request came about when a colleague attempted to guess which one of the 8 submissions was actually mine.  She finally guessed correctly after choosing all of the others, leaving only this one.  She then wanted to know what in the world I was going to do with this image if it turned out the unimaginable happened and it was chosen. Several other friends wanted to know the story of what the object was and where it had been photographed.  So I promised I would post the whole story (a sad one, unfortunately) in a future Forum and so here we are today. Be sure to visit the other submissions to this week’s Forum at Stacy Fischer’s ABFriday Forum Week 28.

The best way to start this off is to give some background on the object.  It all started in 2009, when an eager young entrepreneur opened a small independent coffee store in Great Falls, Virginia.  The owner contacted a local arts group, Great Falls Studios (full disclosure: I am a member of this group),and asked for assistance in arranging art exhibits in the space by local artists.  After several exhibits, the idea of doing a themed exhibit on “Coffee” was raised and scheduled.  I had no qualifying images so dropped by and made a few images of coffee paraphernalia in the store.  One of the subjects was the coffee roaster itself as shown in the image below.Robin Kent ABFriday Week 29 Before 03

 Deidrich Coffee Roaster, the Only Roaster Manufactured in the U.S.

But this image was too cluttered, and I moved in closer for a detail shot which became the “Before” image shown at the beginning of today’s post.  (Technical Data: Nikon D200 with 18-200mm lens, extended to 75mm, on tripod; exposure 3 secs. @ f/16, ISO 320, available light)

The result was opened in Adobe Camera Raw and I followed my usual procedure in making corrections.  The adjustments are shown in the Screen Capture below.

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 29 Before 02

Screen Capture of Adjustments in Adobe Camera RAW

At this point, I had a technically decent image, but it wasn’t particularly interesting and if it had to be hung in an exhibit, something more was need.  Fortunately, Photoshop has about two zillion ways to go wild with an image .  Not that I knew what one to use, but what better way to learn than by experimenting?

After some trial and error, I opened up the Filter Gallery and found something called “Glowing Edges.”  Now that sounded cool, so I played around with that for a bit and ended up with the image below.  As you can see, I cropped out the red band at the bottom of the

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 29 After

image.  The procedure used to make this transformation is as follows:  In Photoshop, click on Filter->Filter Gallery; this opens up a large display window with a list of various options in the upper right section (Artistic, Brush Strokes, etc.).  Look for the “Stylize” option and click on the down arrow.  There should be just one choice, “Glowing Edges.”  Select that and then take a look at the sliders immediately to the right (See Image below).  In this

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 27 Before Screenshot. 02jpg

case, I set the edge width to the minimum value of 1, the Edge Brightness to 8 and the Smoothness to 2.  The display window includes a preview of the image as you make changes, so it is easy to see the effects of each slider.

Further experimentation resulted in a few more images and the final image was what would probably be called a tetraptych (group of 4 images) as shown in the image below.

Robin Kent ABFriday Week27 Before 05

The print was a modest 12″ X 16″  but I have no idea what I did in Photoshop to make those borders look like they were ripped.

At any rate, the exhibit was a success, but sadly, the coffee store was not.  Serving great coffee and providing great customer service do not always result in sufficient  profits  and the business was closed within a year after these pictures were taken.

Once again, many thanks to Stacy Fischer for managing the After Before Friday Forum. Take a look at the other submissions at her blog, Visual Venturing.

And for those wishing to check out Leanne Cole’s blog and our Travel Photography discussion, please go to her site at this location.

After Before Friday Forum Week 27

Well, last week on the ABFriday Forum was great with everyone presenting a Before and After version of the same image.  I think we participants all enjoyed the experience of comparing our diverse interpretations of the same image.  Now we return to our normal practice of each person submitting Before and After versions of our own images. All of the other contributions can be found at Stacy Fischer’s Visual Venturing post starting around 8:00 EST so be sure to check them out. .

ABFriday Week 27 After-Before                                            After Image                 Before Image

As I started to consider what image to submit this week, i was struggling with the fact that the morning temperatures were in the 20s and heading down.  Although this might be a trifle for folks in the northern latitudes, it is really hard on those of us  who live in Virginia.  Then, my memory took me back to a January day when I had the good sense to be in Hawaii and the selection was an easy one. The differences between the two images above may seem small, but a fair amount of work was required to get from B to A.

Robin Kent ABFriday Week27 Before

 Unprocessed RAW Image

A larger size version of the Before image is shown above.  As usual, the first step was to engage the Adobe Camera RAW process (See image of the screen capture below).   All work was done in the basic window (yellow arrow) and the specific changes are identified with the red arrows.  My first goal was to minimize the bright spots in the sky and so the Highlights were reduced to -70.  Second, I wasn’t thrilled with the silhouette effect and did my best to open up the shadows by going to the maximum increase of +100.  The remaining changes were less aggressive: Whites reduced to -8; Clarity increased to +22; and Vibrance increased to +27.

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 27 Before Screenshot

Adobe Camera RAW Changes

The result of the adjustments are shown in the image below.  It seemed like there had been some improvement in the sky, and opening up the shadows had brought out some detail in the palm tree and some life in the water in the middle distance.  But two new problems had arisen.  The open shadow maneuver had revealed an unattractive road in the foreground and a portion of some kind of boat on the right side.  Curses!  Had I been foiled again?

Robin Kent ABFriday Week27 Before 02

Result of the Adobe Camera RAW Adjustments

But not to worry, Photoshop was waiting to show its capabilities and the image was transferred there. The next step was to  de-emphasize the road  in the foregroundRobin Kent ABFriday Week27 Before 03

Levels Adjustment for the Foreground

by selecting it (see red arrow pointing down to the selected area) and using a Levels Adjustment layer and moving the slider from 0 to 32 (Other red arrow).

But the problems of the boat and the still too bright segments of the sky remained.  The boat easily defeated the first attempt (Content-Aware Edit Fill) and so the clone tool was pulled out for action.  Removing the boat was easy enough and the sky was corrected by copying small sections of sky on the left side that had a light blue tone .

Robin Kent ABFriday Week27 Before 04

Using the Clone Tool

The final result is shown below.  Although a fair amount of work was done, the differences are small.  But I think they make it a better image.  The foreground remains unobtrusive, the small but annoying boat is gone, the water is a little brighter, there is just a bit of detail in the palm leaves to add some dimensionality, and there are no hot spots in the sky.

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 27 After

Final Image

I’d be interested in any comments and please check out the submissions from the other participants at Stacy Fischer’s ABFridayWeek 27.

Keep Photographing…..

Washington DC — November Scouting Report

Breaking News:  The scaffolding for the US Capitol Dome project is now completely up, but the unique illumination that makes it an interesting subject at night (see image below) may be about to disappear.  A check on the east front of the building showed an enormous white plastic sheet enveloping about 60% of the dome and scaffolding on that side and a small portion of the north side.

Capitol Dome Scaffolding

                                  US Capitol Under Repair  (View of West Front)                                   (Nikon D800E with 20-70mm f/2.8 lens on tripod; exposure 3 sec. @ f/16, ISO 400)

This week, I made two scouting runs into the city to determine the feasibility of an evening shoot in the coming weeks.   Along the way, I checked the status of other sites that may be of interest to local photographers.

The Bad News

Fountains: A number of the major and minor fountains are no longer running, having been shut down for the winter.  These include the Bartholdi Fountain, the Court of Neptune at the Library of Congress, the two small fountains on the plaza of the Supreme Court, the Joseph Darlington Memorial Fountain at the intersection of Indiana Avenue and 5th Street NW, and the Mellon Fountain at the Federal Triangle.  And, of course, the long neglected but potentially impressive Columbus Fountain at Union Station continues to languish along with the two smaller basins on its flanks.

The Tulip Library:  The colorful annuals that were blooming in profusion not many weeks ago are now gone.  But in the spring there will be a new display of tulips providing a great foreground for images of the Washington Monument.

National Gallery, East Wing: There is still one crane remaining alongside the building on the Constitution Avenue side.  Close crop shots from a number of angles are possible, however.

Renwick Gallery:  The renovation, begun earlier this year, is still underway and will probably last through next year. The Gallery is closed and well hidden behind the construction scaffolding.

Old Post Office: Also closed, also lots of scaffolding plus an enormous sign with the new owner’s last name prominently displayed.

The Good News

Fountains:  Some are still running, but time is growing short.  The World War II Memorial seems to be in full operation and likely will be one of the last to shut down.  Others that still have running water include the new Disabled for Life Veterans Memorial (plus the flame was going strong this afternoon), the cascades on the northwest side of the American Indian Museum, the Senate Garage Fountain (although the illumination was turned off a few nights ago), the reflecting pool at the Japanese Internment Memorial (Louisiana Avenue and D Street, NW), and the twin fountains/cascades on the plaza of the US Navy Memorial (Pennsylvania Avenue and 7th Street, NW).

Kennedy Center:  The large temporary tent that had been erected on the south side of the building is now gone.  Those wishing to take photographs from the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge pedestrian sidewalk or from vantage points on that side of the Center will no longer have to contend with this.

Upcoming Events

The 2014 Capitol Christmas Tree is making its way from Minnesota and is scheduled to arrive at 10 AM on November 21st.  The lighting ceremony will be on December 2nd.  Traditionally, the Capitol Police have suspended the requirement for permits to use a tripod on the Capitol grounds for the entire month of December.  Hopefully, that will be repeated this year.  Stay tuned….

Preparations for the National Christmas Tree and Pathway to Peace are well underway now on the ellipse, but much remains to be done.  The lighting ceremony will be on December 6th.

The National Hanukkah Menorah to celebrate the 8-day Jewish holiday will also be on the ellipse.  The lighting ceremony will be at 4 PM on December 16th.

So, get out and get shooting…

Full Moon?

Moonrise D-09-02-09-0133

Moonrise, Lincoln Memorial

Every so often, the full moon will rise perfectly aligned with an architectural icon, rewarding photographers who happen to be in the right place at the right time.  Such an opportunity may occur on November 6th here in Washington, DC but only if the weather forecast is wrong.  The prediction calls for an 80% chance of rain, which means that an opportunity for an image like the one above is slim.

The above image was taken on February 9, 2009 and while conditions were not perfect, we still had a chance for a nice image. (Technical data: Nikon D200 on tripod with 18-300 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens extended to 112 mm; exposure: 2.5 sec. @ f/7.1, ISO 200)  On that night, the time of the moonrise was 42 minutes after sunset, which is usually a little later than perfect. Tomorrow night, the moonrise is scheduled for only 6 minutes after sunset, which is a little earlier than perfect.  In addition, the location of the moon will be slightly to the left (north) so one would need to be a little farther south to get the same proximity with the Lincoln Memorial.

About five years ago, it was difficult to calculate the right time and place to catch the moon as it broke the horizon line.  You needed to know how to use a compass, something that was invented 800 years ago. But the appearance of “apps” such as The Photographer’s Ephemeris have made this quite easy. So check your weather forecast, and if the prospects are favorable in your area, get out there with your tripod and get the shot.

Dupont Circle Fountain, Washington, DC


You wouldn’t know it to look at this picture, but this fountain stands in the center of the most congested traffic circle in Washington, DC.     But if you are a pedestrian, this is a wonderful place to settle on a nearby bench and enjoy a brief respite.

I was on my way to a meeting last Friday and, thanks to a smooth ride on the Metro, had some extra time when I emerged from the station less than a block away.   I stopped to take a few shots, and then continued on to my appointment. (Technical: (Nikon D800E with Nikon 20mm f/2.8 fixed lens, handheld. Exposure: 1/1250th sec. @ f/4, ISO 400)

This B&W version has been submitted to this week’s running of the Monochrome Madness series managed by Leanne Cole.  This is a great place to find some excellent monochrome images and it will appear on her blog  on Tuesday morning, November 4th.

The fountain at Dupont Circle is a memorial to Rear Admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont who became the first naval hero for the Union in the Civil War when his fleet captured Port Royal, South Carolina in a daring attack. There is a lot more to this story as well as Dupont Circle, but that will have to wait for a future post.  If you can’t wait, check out page 343 of James M. Goode’s encyclopedic volume, “Washington Sculpture: A Cultural History of Outdoor Sculpture in the Nation’s Capital.”

In the meantime, only a short time remains for you to vote in the After-Before Friday Forum to select the lucky image that will be turned over to eleven photographers each of whom will perform their post-processing magic on it.  Votes may be cast at Stacy Fischer’s VisualVenturing blog.

Central Park, Part 2

This last weekend, I was in New York City for a brief visit and spent a fair amount of time in Central Park, at least the area around the Bethesda Terrace.  The picture I posted last Sunday of the Bethesda Fountain was only one (although my favorite) of the several I took while there.  Here are a few more.

Central Park 10

The Terrace’s quietest moments are in the early morning on weekends.  This image, taken on Saturday morning from an overlook balcony shows that dog owners are among the first to arrive with their canine companions.  The nearby roads are already bustling with bikers and runners.

Central Park 02

The Terrace borders the Lake and is the second largest body of water in Central Park.  The image above, taken at sunrise, was taken from the pathway leading away from Bethesda Terrace towards Central Park West.  The twin towers are the San Remo co-op apartments, originally built in 1930.

Central Park 05

The famous Bow Bridge is nearby, leading into the Ramble, which was described by Frederick Law Olmstead, the park’s designer, as a “36-acre wild garden.”  It is a rolling forest of trees, plantings, and wildlife. Once there, it is easy to forget one is in the center of New York City. Because of the park’s location along the Atlantic flyway migration route, the Ramble is the center of birding activity in the Park. The image above, taken in mid-morning, is the view as one emerges from the Ramble to cross the Bow Bridge and head back toward the Bethesda Terrace.  As I crossed the bridge a few minutes later, a young man was kneeling before his companion, asking her to marry him.

Central Park 08

The nearby Loeb Boathouse has boats available for rent and, on warm afternoons, rowing a boat about The Lake is a popular activity.  One can also rent a piloted gondola for $30 per half hour (above).  The area around Bethesda Terrace almost always has several commercial photo shoots underway but the photographer in the boat has found a way to escape the competition for a prime spot.

Central Park 06

In the late afternoon, I spotted a “Balloon Man” whose shimmering creations were delighting a trio of youngsters who had wandered away from a wedding party photo session.  This image was taken from the same balcony as the panorama image of the Terrace and Fountain above.  The balcony is immediately above a pedestrian pass-through that is illuminated at night (below).  The glowing gold of the ornate ceiling attracts photographers like a flame lures moths.  This image was taken while navigating two fashion shoots and a skillful itinerant musician playing a guitar and singing romantic tunes.

Central Park 04

The Loeb Boat House not only rents boats, but also has a restaurant with some prime views.  By this time the image below was taken, the boat rental facility had closed, but the dinner hour was in full swing.  There is also a café that has a passable breakfast for under $7.00 starting at 8 AM.

Central Park 07

Finally, it was time to leave  but as I walked back toward Central Park West, I was struck by the ethereal quality of the Bow Bridge as its white masonry took on a luminous quality in the evening twilight.

Central Park 03

After-Before Friday Forum — Week 21

The After-Before Friday Forum, sponsored by Stacy Fischer of VisualVenturing is an opportunity for photographers to exchange ideas on various post-processing techniques they use to achieve their creative vision. After all, when the shutter closes, there is still work to be done.  All of the submissions can be found at  the Forum Week 21 posting here.  Anyone can participate and the guidelines can be found in Stacy’s Forum post each week.

My submission this week was taken a few years ago at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC.  The cherry blossoms had peaked a day or so before and a night rain had knocked a lot of petals off the blossoms giving the appearance of a pink snow flurry.  I was fortunate in that no one had yet walked through the petals.  When photographing cherry blossoms in low light, I always use an on-camera flash to provide some fill light.  Just a touch is all that’s needed so I typically dial the flash back 2 or 3 stops.  In addition, I use a magenta gel filter on the flash so the white light doesn’t blow out the color of the petals.  (Technical data: Nikon D700 on tripod with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens extended to 24mm; exposure: 3 sec. @ f/16, ISO 800) This produced the RAW file shown below.

Robin Kent Before  Week 21 FDR 01

Original RAW Image

The exposure was OK with the cherry blossoms, the twilight blue of the sky, and the display wall.  The chief problem areas are: the overly hot flood light (upper center) and the uplights along the base of the wall; the underexposed pillars; and the foreground with the pink petals.  The image was opened in Adobe Camera RAW as the first step.

 Robin Kent Before  Week 21 FDR 02Adobe Camera RAW Adjustments

Only four changes were needed here (red arrows). The “Highlights adjustment was moved to -53 to tone down the hotspots in the lights. The “Shadows” adjustment was maxed out to +100 to open up the dark areas which helped improve the pillars. Some “Clarity” was added (+26) and just a smidgen (+13)  with the “Vibrance” slider.  The image is well saturated already and doesn’t need much more.

This was followed by moving the image into Photoshop (see image below). The first step  involved the pillars.  The underexposed sections were selected (red lines) and a Curves

Robin Kent Before  Week 21 FDR 03

First Curves Adjustment for Pillars

Adjustment Layer (blue arrow) was opened.  It required a fairly push  up with the curve to get the desired detail.  The blend mode was left in the default position of Normal.The final step was to brighten up the foreground a bit.  The pink are was selected (red line in the image below) and a second Curves Adjustment was made (blue arrow).  The blend mode

Robin Kent Before  Week 21 FDR 04

Second Curves Adjustment for Foreground

was left at Normal again and only a modest push was made to the Curve.   This produced the final image which is shown below.

Robin Kent After Week 21 FDR 01

Final Image

Once again, many thanks to Stacy Fischer for keeping this Forum up and running.  Please check out the submissions by the other participants at her post for Week 21 here.  And stay tuned for a special edition coming soon that is based on a suggestion from one of the participants.

Hidden Gem: Bartholdi Fountain

Bartholdi Fountain Blog 01

Bartholdi Fountain, Evening Light

Last Friday, a photographer colleague and I went into the city to take some photographs of the Bartholdi Fountain, located directly across Independence Avenue from the US Botanic Garden.  The fountain is located in Bartholdi Park, a two-acre garden managed by the US Botanic Garden. It is named after Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the designer of the 30-foot tall fountain which is the central feature of the park.  Bartholdi is best known as the creator of the Statue of Liberty. The fountain was originally commissioned for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia and was brought to Washington afterwards.  It fell into disrepair but a 3-year restoration was completed in 2011 and the result was well worth the wait. (Technical data for above image: Nikon D800E on tripod with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens @ 24mm; 5 sec. @ f/16, ISO 100; 5 separate images photomerged)

Bartholdi Blog 02

Bartholdi Park, April 2012

The park features a wonderful horticultural display that changes with the seasons.  Tables, with folding umbrellas and chairs surround the fountain and benches are placed among the plantings where one can enjoy a few moments of serenity a short distance from the US Capitol Building. The park’s website can be found here. (Technical data for above image: Nikon D700 on tripod with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 70mm; 1/100th @ f/16, ISO 400)

Bartholdi Carla Steckley

Bartholdi Fountain by Carla Steckley

The best time, at least in my opinion, to photograph the fountain is during the evening twilight as shown above in the image taken by my colleague about 25 minutes after sunset.   (Technical Data: Canon DSLR on tripod with 13-85mm EF-S  f/3.5 lens; 1/20th sec  @ f/13, ISO 100)

It was an excellent evening for a shoot.  The weather was perfect, the fountain was illuminated and flowing normally, a fresh bed of pansies had been planted in the circular plot, creating a floral necklace around the basin.  The glass dome of the Botanic Garden across the street was being illuminated from within by a  green light.  A few people passed through the park while we there, but we were quite impressed  with a group of five (see image at top) who brought in a tablecloth, silverware, sparkling water, an assortment of cheeses, and other good things and had what looked like a wonderful evening as we moved around photographing the fountain.

Bartholdi Fountain Blog 03

Bartholdi Fountain, Looking Southeast

Twilight lasts only a short time, but sometimes the lights of the city will illuminate the clouds overhead with an interesting color.  The image above, looking in a southeasterly direction toward the Rayburn House Office Building, was photographed just before we left, about 45 minutes after sunset. (Technical data: Nikon D800E on tripod with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens @ 48mm; 5 sec. @ f/16, ISO 400)

And on nights when there is a moon, clouds are less desirable as shown in the image below taken last year. (Technical data Nikon D800E on tripod with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens @70mm; 3 sec. @ f/16, ISO 800, 5 images photomerged)  This could have easily been a single image by bringing the extension back to about 35mm, but the moon would have looked quite small with that approach.

Bartholdi Fountain Blog 04

Full Moon and Bartholdi Fountain, June  2013


After-Before Friday Forum Week 18

Stacy Fischer’s blog Visual Venturing hosts the weekly After-Before Friday Forum that provides a unique opportunity for photographers to exchange ideas about post-processing their images.  I have found these exchanges to be extremely instructive.   This week’s Forum will be up later this morning and can be found here.

Kent ABFriday Before Week 18

Original Raw Image

Nearly always, my goal in post-processing is to create an image that is a close representation to what I was seeing when I was taking the photograph.  But every so often, I am tempted to create a scene the way I wished it had been.  Usually, I manage to resist this inclination but not in the case of my submission this week.  The “Before” image above shows the original RAW image of the Washington Monument in the late afternoon of early March 2013.  An incredible shaft of golden sunlight was illuminating the monument as the dark clouds of a clearing storm moved toward the east.  I’ve been at that spot many times, but had never seen light this dramatic before.  But in capturing the image, it was necessary to choose an exposure (based on a careful check of the histogram on the camera’s LCD display) that minimized the loss of detail.  (Technical data: Nikon D800E on tripod, 24-70mm f/2.8 lens extended to 35mm; exposure 1/200th sec. @f/7.1 at ISO 200)

The image above obviously does not show the dramatic lighting and dark clouds, so some adjustments were necessary in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR).  The screen capture of the ACR dialog window below shows the adjustments that were made (Exposure: -0.30, Whites: +19; Blacks: -44; Clarity: +26; Vibrance: +24).

Kent ABFriday Before 03A Week 18

Adjustments made in Adobe Camera Raw

These global changes brought the scene closer to what I was seeing when I took the picture, but a little more work was needed and I moved the image into Photoshop.  The sky was still too light and the golden color of the sun was too understated.  The first step was a Curves Adjustment Layer to darken the sky.  The screen capture below illustrates this step.  The foreground and the monument were masked so the adjustment only affected the sky.

Kent ABFriday Before 02 Week 18

Curves Adjustment Layer

The second step was to correct the color of the sunlight on the scene and this required only a modest increase with a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer.  The screen capture shown below illustrates that adjustment, an increase of only +8.  Given the small size of this image, the difference is hardly noticeable, but in a large print, it would make a difference.  The blend mode in both adjustment layers was Normal.  I don’t usually select that mode, but I always check to see the effect and in both cases, I preferred the effects of Normal instead of Luminosity for the curves layer and Normal instead of Saturation for the Hue/Sat layer.

Kent ABFriday Before 03B Week 18

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer

The results of these steps are shown in the image below.  It is a faithful rendition of the scene as I saw it when I took the photograph.

But there is still a problem, and a fairly serious one.  While not terribly obvious in this small size, a  full screen version on a 27-inch monitor clearly reveals the presence of a considerable and annoying amount of construction paraphernalia.   The image below gives a better sense of the scope of the problem.

Kent ABFriday Before 03 Week 17

Detail of Scaffolding and Fence

I guess this is what they call an ethical conundrum. If this image was to be printed in a size (e.g., 18” X 24” or larger), the construction activity would be obnoxious. I decided to give it a try, rationalizing that it would be a learning experience.  What I did not bargain for was that this “learning experience” would last for nearly three days.  Lacking knowledge of any elegant solution, I applied the Photoshop equivalent of brute force.  Only 3 Photoshop tools were used to remove the offending material from the site and none will be a surprise to Photoshop users.  They were the Healing Brush, the Clone tool, and the Edit>Content>fill procedure.   The first two are well known actions to remove flaws or unwanted objects from a scene.  The third is less well known but often can be an incredibly powerful assistant as the photographer changes roles from faithful recorder of reality to creator of something that never existed. The result of these efforts is shown below.

Kent ABFriday After Week 18

Final Image After “Clean-up”

Not all evidence of the renovation was removed as is shown in the detailed section below. While the “cleaned”  version seems to be an improvement, it’s reasonable to ask if it was worth the effort.

Kent ABFriday Before 03C Week 18

Detail of Final Image


Comments on the results are most welcome and thoughts on the ethical question would also be interesting to hear.  Please visit Stacy Fischer’s post with the submissions of some very talented photographers when it appears later this morning.

ABFriday Forum Week 17

My submission to Stacy Fischer’s After-Before Friday Forum is a photograph I made last year along the Oregon coast.  Thor’s Well, described as a large salt water fountain driven by ocean tides, is fairly popular with local visitors but is not found in most guidebooks.  When conditions are right, around high tide, it can be pretty spectacular and sometime dangerous during stormy or icy weather.   The desired effects occur at high tide when waves surge into an underwater cave beneath the rocky shoreline. The wave, with no other exit, explodes through the large hole in the cave’s roof, collapses, and then flows back into the cave.  I decided that high tide at sunset would be the best time to capture an image.  I wanted to give a sense of the flow of water so after several experiments with different shutter speeds, I settled on 1/20th sec.  There was an overcast sky overhead with a slight opening in the west that allowed some of the sunset colors to very softly paint the surface of the water as it flowed back into the chasm.  The initial result is shown below. (Technical data: Nikon D800e on a tripod with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens extended to 70mm; exposure 1/20th sec. @f/11, ISO 800)

Kent ABFriday Before (Week 17)

Original RAW Image

The opening is about 15 X 20 feet and the trick was to get pretty close, but not too close.   Using a 14-24 wide angle would require getting a little closer than I considered wise. And the results didn’t capture the drama as well as I would have liked. I was looking down into the mouth of this abyss and the wide angle made it seem the view was from 100 feet away.  I switched to the 70-200 telephoto and liked what I saw at 70mm.  Cropping out the horizon was a conscious decision.

After opening the image in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR), I made a number of adjustments to open up the darker segments and restore the subtle warm tones that I had seen when taking the picture.  The Figure below shows a screen capture of the ACR window with the adjustments I made (red arrows).

Kent ABFriday Before 02 Thor (Week 17)

ACR Dialog Window with Adjustments

The next step was to open the image in Photoshop and the image at this stage is shown below.  It seemed to be about where I wanted it, but it needed just a touch more saturation.

 Kent ABFriday Before 03 Thor (Week 17)Image After ACR Adjustments

 As a final step, I added a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer as shown in the Figure below.  I moved the slider to plus 33 (red arrow) which brought out the blue of the water in shadow and the warm touch of sunlight on the water in the foreground. The blend mode (blue arrow) was set to Saturation.

Kent ABFriday Before 04 Thor (Week 17)

Adding a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer

That was it.  The final image is shown below.  The overall time required was about 15 minutes, a lot less complicated than the star trails image from last week.

Kent ABFriday Final After (Week 17)

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.