Saturday, May 24, 2008

May Photochallenge Week 4 Recap

May Photochallenge Week 4 Recap
Originally uploaded by hpebley3

May's PhotoChallenge is in full swing and heading into the final week. After a slow start the first partial week, I've been able to keep up with the daily shots for the last three weeks. I'm a bit pleased with myself for this, since daily consistency is not something I'm terribly good at.

Last week's topic was a bit more abstract in that what we shot each day was seven items rather than the same item all week, as we have for the rest of the month. I don't know if it was not having the same item every day to work with or something else, but I found this week harder than the others and I'm not as pleased with my photos. That said, I really do like the last two.

The Flags shot I "saw" when I passed a new big-box store decorated for its grand opening. It was on the evening commute in daylight about an hour before sunset. I knew the image I wanted required darkness, so I went back the next night and took it. I ran into more difficulties than expected because when I went, even though it was after 11pm, they still had the parking lot lights on.

The Photographers shot I took on a Photowalking Utah event. We were crossing the street and as I walked, I pointed the camera over my shoulder and triggered the shutter. There was absolutely zero composition. Typically when I do this, the results are about the same as the effort I put into them: nothing. This one actually turned out pretty decent and I love the bonus with the walk sign.

Next week's topic is My thumb; this ought to be interesting.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Photowalk Utah: Memorial Park on Memorial Day Weekend

Brick chapel
Originally uploaded by hpebley3

This month's Photowalking Utah walk-about will be from City Creek park up stream to Memorial Grove and then up hill to the Capitol building here in Salt Lake City. Rain or shine, it's scheduled for this Saturday, May 24th starting at 5:00pm. We're meeting at the entrance to City Creek park on the north-east corner of State Street and North Temple.

Please leave a comment here if you plan on being there. As always, this is open to anyone with a camera regardless of skill level or equipment. We're an informal, non-competitive group looking to have fun with and learn from each other.

Monday, May 19, 2008

How to fake a miniature in Corel's Paint Shop Pro Photo XI

I first saw fake miniatures (aka tilt-shift effect) on my friend Rich Legg's blog last year. Since then I've had it in the back of my mind to try it out. At a recent Photowalking Utah event I saw the perfect shot and took it. (Apparently I wasn't alone in my assessment.)

When I finally got around to doing the post-processing, I couldn't find a good, complete tutorial for Paint Shop Pro XI, so I decided to write up what I did. None of this technique is really original to me, but I did have to do some searching and adapt what I found elsewhere in a couple places. Hopefully, having this consolidated will help someone else.

First, a brief overview. The idea is to trick the brain's perception of the image to think it's looking at something smaller than it actually is. This is done by changing the queues the brain uses to gauge size. To start, this technique works best where the perspective is from above, looking down on the main scene. Secondly, we emulate a narrow depth of field, typical of macro shots. Finally, we boost the color saturation and decrease some detail, typical of models.

And a couple house keeping notes:
  • Click on any image to see a larger view.
  • The specific adjustment values given in this tutorial work well for this image. They may need to be adjusted for differently sized or exposed images.

We'll start with this original.
1 Original
As already stated, we want something where we're looking down on a scene that's fairly well exposed. This was taken from the 12th level of a parking structure looking down on a large construction project.

The first adjustment will be to make it appear to have a limited depth of field. To do this, select the rectangular selection tool and set the feathering to a large value. For this image, I used 150 pixels.
2 Rectangle select setup

Then select the area of the image that should be in focus plus extra for the feathering. The area needs to be large enough that the feathering does not come into the area that should be sharp.
3 Initial selection

Next invert the selection by pressing Ctrl-Shift-I or selecting Invert from the Selections menu.
4 Inverted selection

Now we're going to blur the selection by selecting Gaussian Blur from the Adjust menu's Blur options. We want a number large enough to give a good blur but not enough to make all the details go away completely. For this image, I used a radius of 13.
5 Gaussian blur option 5a Gaussian blur result

We're done with the selection, so press Ctrl-D or select Select none from the Selections menu. Now select Edge preserving smooth from the Adjust menu's Add/Remove Noise options. The idea here is to get rid of some of the details inside objects without losing the edges. For this image, I used a smoothing about of 12.
6 Edge preserving smooth option 6a Edge preserving smooth result

Next we're going to boost the saturation a fair bit. Select Hue/Saturation/Lightness from the Adjust menu's Hue and Saturation options. We don't need to change the Hue or Lightness values, so they can be set to 0. The Saturation value for this image I set to 30.
7 HueSatLight options 7a Saturation result

Finally, we adjust the contrast some by selecting Curves from the Adjust menu's Brightness and Contrast options and set two control points to give a standard contrast increasing S-curve.
8 Curve options

All this results in this final image.
9 Final

Sunday, May 18, 2008

May Photochallenge Week 3 Recap

May Photochallenge Week 3 Recap
Originally uploaded by hpebley3

This is the second full week of the May PhotoChallenge organized by Trevor Carpenter at May's challenge is to shoot the same object all week and this week's topic was shoes. I chose to use my hiking boots, putting them in different situations each day.

The image I think turned out the best was "Travelers", shot in the studio with controlled lighting. The second was also shot in the studio but I couldn't seem to get the lighting as dialed in as the first one. The funniest one was "p0rn"; I laughed when I conceived the idea and chuckled as I shot it. The last one had the fewest shots to get the image I wanted. The first shot was in manual mode and way over exposed, the second was in Av mode and worked acceptably well. I took it just before the film started so I didn't take time to try to do anything fancy. In looking at it during post processing, I thought an off camera flash to camera right would help lighten some of the deep shadows and make it work a bit better. Something to learn from for next time.

This next week's topic is Seven. The preference is to get seven of something, failing that the number 7 is acceptable too.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

May Photochallenge Week 2 Recap

May Photochallenge Week 2 Recap
Originally uploaded by hpebley3

I'm again participating in the monthly photo challenge put together by Trevor Carpenter at This month's challenge is to shoot daily images of a subject given to us at the beginning of each week. So for a week we have the same subject each day, then we move on to the next subject.

This week's subject was "Automobile" so I choose the easiest one for me to access each day, my own. My two favorite images this week are ones I had wanted to do for a while: Heart of the machine and Beauty in the Beast. Both turned out OK, but I'd like to go back and revisit them sometime to try to improve on what I got this week.