Category Archives: Art

One Photo, Endless Possibilities

Warning – if you are one of those photographers that thinks photos should be made in the camera with no post processing, then this isn’t for you!

If you’ve followed me at all, you know that I really enjoy post processing my images.  I love getting the camera out and making what I call my base shots.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a landscape or airplanes at an air show.  But to me that’s only part of the process.  Getting the images into my computer and finding new ways to “enhance” them is part 2.  If you like to post process your photos, it doesn’t really matter if you just tweak them a little bit or go hog wild.  The important thing is that you enjoy it.  Don’t get caught up in the debate about whether or not to edit, it’s entirely up to you!  It also doesn’t matter if  you use Photoshop or Picasa.  Use whatever you have or are comfortable with!

There are a couple of things that I like to do to my images.  One is to convert them to black and white, and the other is to give them a vintage treatment.  How do I know when to apply black and white or vintage?  I don’t know, at least not until I try it.  There are some types of photos that have the potential to look better in black and white or vintage.  For me, they tend to be older things such as WWII aircraft, or antique automobiles.  Old buildings like those you might see at a ghost town also work well.  Landscapes are a little harder to visualize.  If a scene is very colorful, such as a forest in Autumn, it might not make sense to convert it to black and white.  The best way to find out is pick one of you photos that you think might look good in black and white and convert it.  If it doesn’t work, then all you have to do is cancel your changes and close the image.  No harm – no foul.  Pick another photo and try again, and pretty soon you’ll start to develop a sense of what is a good candidate for black and white.  This may even carry over to when you are with your camera and looking at a scene.  Try to visualize it, not only as you see it, but also in black and white.  Keep trying, and if you do this enough, it should start to happen for you.

Here’s an example.  This is a WWII Focke-Wulf FW-190 (a.k.a. the Butcher Bird).  The original shot is from my Panasonic FZ1000, and was taken at the Planes of Fame Air Show earlier this year.

It’s not bad in color, and I did some post processing.  But when I look at it, I get the sense that it could be better in black and white.  Here’s what happened.

Not to bad, but it still seems like something is missing.  My next thought was how it might look had it been taken with a film camera in the 1940’s.  This is the result.

Most of the WWII (and earlier) photos that I’ve seen are faded, or just plain worn out.  The paper they were printed on has texture, and there are a lot of imperfections.  That’s what I love about them, all of the imperfections.  Personally I think it gives these photos character, something that a lot of technically perfect photos from todays cameras lack.  Just because a modern photo is tack sharp and has optimum bit depth and blah blah blah, doesn’t mean it has character, or in the case of a WWII era photo, a sense of history.  I guess what I’m saying is that a lot of todays perfect photos have no soul, some of mine included.  It’s something I’m working on with my post processing.  Every once in a while I think I’m getting close.

How about you?  Is there a type of photo that moves you or speaks to you in a way that others don’t?  If so, get your camera and favorite editing software and get busy!  Go over to my Facebook page and share some of your work – upatdawnphotograpy (just click the link).

That’s it for now, until next time – Happy Shooting!

 

Is It Photography or Art?

This is a question I often ask myself.  I suppose it could be either, just depends on my mood when I’m behind the computer going over my collection of images.

As you can see from the image above, this started out as a photo, but ended up something else.  Reality doesn’t look this way.  When I opened the original image I thought about converting it to black and white, one of my favorite things to do with images from the Ghost Town of Bodie.  As I started to work with this photo I changed my mind, and started adding textures instead.  After that I applied the blurring and vignette and really liked the results.

Here’s the original, as it came out of the camera with the exception of conversion from RAW and resizing.  Not bad, but not great either.  I did this with my Olympus E-M5 and Olympus 17mm lens pressed up close the the window of one of the old houses at Bodie.

Looking at the original I thought it had some potential. I understand there are all kinds of thoughts out there about workflow. Some of those thoughts and ideas are probably great, but to be honest I don’t pay much attention to them. I guess you could see that as closed minded, but I prefer to do my own thing, and it works for me. So, that’s where I started and just kind of let things flow. My main tool is Photoshop, and I have a few add ons that I like to use if they make sense at the time. One of them is OnOne Perfect Effects. Using both of those tools and trying different things allows me to take what started as a photo and hopefully turn it into something more. Is it art? Hard to say. It probably depends on who’s looking at it. I think Ansel Adams said it best, “Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art”.

In closing let me say this, go out and take some photos. That’s only the starting point. Try something new and see where your creative vision takes you! Maybe you’ll transform your photos into art!

Until next time, Happy Shooting!

That Camera Really Takes Good Pictures!

If I never hear that statement again, it’ll be too soon!  Not too long ago, I took some candid photos for my Company’s picnic.  Nothing special, just photos of people having fun on a very nice day.

In addition to all of the food, kid’s face painting, sack races, and more food, there was  a live band.  I thought it would be fun to capture a few photos of the band members.  Using my Canon 60D with 70-200 F4 L lens made it pretty easy.  The event was held in the middle of the day, at a park with plenty of sunshine, so the F4 lens was plenty fast enough!

After it was all said and done, I emailed one of the band members copies of some of the photos, and I know he appreciated them.  But along with his sincere “thanks a lot for the pictures”, came this line, “that camera really takes good pictures”.

What could I say?  I was really stunned for a couple of seconds!   Thoughts of saying something rude or at least a smart-ass comment came to mind, but I didn’t do it.  Other than being ignorant of the craft of photography, he is a nice guy and I know he probably thought he was giving me a compliment.  It was tough not to say something that I might later regret, after all, didn’t he realize that I’m an artist?!  I don’t just push the button and blast away (ok, you’ve got me on that one, sometimes I do)!

In the end, once I got over all of the things I could have said, and I just said “thanks, I’m glad that you liked them”.  And, my feeling weren’t really hurt, so no harm done.  And, while I may consider myself a photographic artist, I’m not a snob!

I’d love to have posted a couple of photos of the band so you could see what I was talking about, but since I don’t have permission to use them this way, I’ll leave you with something else….

This is from the South Tufa State Natural Reserve at Mono Lake.  I suppose that the same thing could be said about this image – “that camera really takes good pictures”.

The thing I find interesting about that statement is that the camera didn’t get up in the cold and dark, drive itself to the location and jump up on the tripod.  It didn’t compose the image, or push its shutter at just the right moment to capture the fleeting seconds between beautiful golden light and flat boring light.

The camera I used for this shot was my Canon 40D.  While I do like it a lot, it’s still just a tool.  As I’ve mentioned before (and probably will again) it’s a nice tool with lots of features that make creating images easier, but by itself, it’s still just a hunk of plastic and metal and wires.  The image is created with the eye of the artist!

It would be fun to see other opinions on this, so if you feel like leaving a comment on the subject, that would be great!  Until the next time – Happy Shooting!