Archive for June, 2010

Guidance

Eyes on many a ship had turned towards the beacon on Split Rock for guidance. Today its watchful eye is no longer needed by the ships of Lake Superior, instead it stands as a reminder of days, and ships, past.

Split Rock

One of my favorite places to spend time is along the North Shore of Lake Superior.  Among its many treasures is the Light House at Split Rock.  Many photographs have been shot of this iconic landscape over the years, and in all kinds of weather and conditions.  One can’t help but think about the many storms of November on the Great Lake and the welcome sight the beacon of Split Rock must have been.

On this beautiful summer day the lake was calm and provided no hint of the great fury its icy waters could deliver.  Instead the warmth of the suns rays fought back the chill of the lake swept breeze and was serene and idyllic.

The couple

The setting, the sun and the calm waters all contribute to this image, but the couple in the forefront add not only dimension and scale but also perspective.  I have no way of knowing for sure but I like to think that they were taking the opportunity to spend time and connect with each other.  In a familiar context the Lighthouse was there for them, as it had in the past for the ships of Lake Superior.

Why that crop?

Soon after posting this image I was asked by a fellow photographer why I chose that particular crop.   My reply was as follows:

I had initially shot this scene in a portrait mode.  When I reviewed it  the sky did not have much interesting detail, so I cropped the top a bit.  At the bottom there was a pattern of ripples on the water but I thought they did not really add to the image.   By cropping top and bottom I was able to distill the image down to only the elements in the scene that were an element of the overall theme.  I felt the Lighthouse was providing guidance both to the ships on the lake (hinted at by the disappearing water over the horizon) and to the couple in foreground.   Ultimately I try to crop images to distill them down to the barest of elements and that is what I have attempted here.

Lazy Summer Day

The hike had left us hot and tired and our sense of adventure had waned. Wading into the cool water we began to feel our spirits rise. Rejuvenated, our interest returned and the exploring once again began in earnest.

Classic Americana

The processing on this image has a very Norman Rockwell type of feel.  I really like this effect on certain photos,   In this image  the scene, the setting and the kids are timeless and remind us of an era where youth and innocence were celebrated.  To me the photo and effect compliment each other perfectly.

This scene harkens back to a time when days were simpler and ones pastimes were more about enjoying the things around you rather then the things you have.   A stream, a stick and a kid seem so right.  To me, this photo is about the wonder of discovery and the innocence of youth.

Make your own Rockwell

Since this is a photo blog I felt it was worth at least a few words on how I processed this image.  And, if you are interested in this effect you will be happy to hear that all it needs is a few words.  :-)

This photo was shot as a jpg by an ordinary P&S camera and processed in Lightroom.    In Lightroom I simply boosted the blacks a small amount and then opened the image in Topaz Adjust.

Topaz Adjust

I have run other images on my blog in the past that discussed Topaz Adjust in more detail (see blog article here).  For the image above it could not be more simple.  Once the image was opened in Topaz Adjust I simply selected the Psychedelic preset.  I played around with some of the sliders but in the end I just went back to the default settings. 

Adjust has lots of different looks and effects and it a very creative and useful tool to add to your arsenal.   Among other things you can approximate the Dave Hill effect or get something like the above which is kind of a cross between a Rockwell painting and the Dave Hill Effect. 

Topaz does have a 30 day trial for most of its plugins, including Adjust.  It is a very fun and creative tool and well worth the time to download and kick the tires.  If you decide to buy you can use the coupon code tnttopaz and save 10%.

The Orton Effect

Pastels ©2009 Gary Udstrand

Origin

This article is about a popular processing technique known as the Orton effect.   It is a technique named after photographer Michael Orton who pioneered the effect.

The technique takes an image and from it you create an in-focus version and an out of focus version.  The two images are then blended together to create an image with a dreamy, surreal look.    The technique originated during the days of film, but now with Photoshop and other image editors the look can be achieved quickly and easily with a single exposure

 

How its Done

The technique works best with images that have strong lines.  In my experience pictures of buildings and flowers seem to work well.  Probably most important is that the image contains a strong focal point.

Pastels © 2009 Gary Udstrand

Above  is an image that I shot a few years back.  The image is OK but I wanted to accentuate the colors of the flowers and give it a dreamy look to emphasize the softness of the pastel flower color.

The Orton effect is easily achieved in just a couple of steps.  You can drop to the end of the article for a list of the steps, otherwise you can follow along as I convert the image above

 

Step One

Once you have your starting image opened in Photoshop (I used Photoshop CS4) the first step is to duplicate the original layer (ctrl-j).  In the layers panel, select the blend mode screen to create a lightened version of your starting image.  Merge the screened layer with the background layer (right click on screen layer and select merge down). 

Step Two

 

Next, duplicate the background layer again (ctrl-j).  Set the blend mode to multiply.   Don’t merge this layer just yet. 

 

Step Three

Select the layer and choose Gaussian blur (filter->blur->gaussian blur).  You should see a dialog box as below, Click on preview, then you can slide the radius slider and see your changes.

Here I have chosen a radius of 30 but anything from 15 to 50 will work.  You need to experiment to get the look you prefer.    The final result is below

 

 

Step Four

Flatten the image, post to web and share with all of us.  :-)

Summary

  • Duplicate Layer (ctrl-j)
  • set the blend mode to screen
  • merge layers down
  • copy layer again (ctrl-j)
  • set the blend mode multiply
  • open the gaussian blur filter
  • turn on preview, move slider back and forth to get finished look
  • flatten image
  • save and share

City on the Lake of the Isles

Lake of the Isles – Minneapolis, MN

 

The metro area of the Twin Cities offers stark contrasts between the metal and concrete of its towering structures and the gentle waters of the lakes that surround it.  On this day the city on the Lake found its reflection starting back from the smooth, still waters of Lake of the Isles.      As though the buildings were standing upon tiptoe to peek over the trees, they loomed large upon the backdrop of the darkening skies.

Pileated Woodpecker

The cold winds of winter had started to subside and would soon be replaced with the warm fragrant breezes of a Minnesota spring.  As the two forces battled with each other the woods and waters started to return to life.  On this day the last vestiges of winter could be felt as the breeze stiffened and the occasional snowflake appeared in the sky.

The Pileated was not to be deterred however, knowing that spring would soon win out.  And so the woods were filled with the raucous echo of the powerful strikes upon the yielding wood and bark.  This somehow made the breeze warmer and the flakes less obvious.    Ah yes, spring was near.

Creating slide shows on Zenfolio

Slideshows

Slide shows are a fun way to share your images on the net and can add a creative flair to your presentation.    Zenfolio makes it easy to create and use a slideshow on your home page, and it also adds a slideshow link to each gallery making it easy for viewers to view your images as a slideshow.  But, what if you want to add a slideshow to your blog or to facebook?

Well, you are in luck.  That is exactly what we are going to do here.   And it is dirt simple.

To create an embeddable slideshow you need to head to the edit page of your gallery.    On the right hand side you will find your gallery toolbox.  And there it is, Right at the top you should see

Create Embeddable Slide Show.  Click on it

 

 

Configure

The options for the slideshow are pretty straightforward and easy to use.  First, lets look at the panel.

From here you can adjust the size and presentation of your slideshow.  Once you have tailored your presentation to your liking all that is left is to click the Create Slide Show button, copy the generated URL and past it into your blog.

The Result

Return top