Monthly Archives: September 2007

PhotoDump 09-30-2007

Another great week of photos from my contacts, along with a few new friends. Here are my selections — Visit the artists — show them some appreciation. And be sure to check out last week’s PhotoDump if you missed it.

21 new favorites from Flickr and 85 contacts.

10 new favorites from Zooomr and 36 contacts.

FLICKR CONTACT PHOTOS

From kwerfeldeinFrom THEjdawgFrom xgrayFrom toledogirl51From Avelino MaestasFrom Andrew MøøreFrom nycflickrFrom Engin  KorkmazFrom kk+From UnfurledFrom mark.osFrom UnfurledFrom kwerfeldeinFrom Waqas AhmedFrom rantfoilFrom Stuck in CustomsFrom jimgoldsteinFrom mannedspaceFrom Steve CraneFrom harpyFrom Daniel Hellerman

ZOOOMR CONTACT PHOTOS

Far AwaySoftTrails Can Be Up or DownJust follow the pathSeperate EndsRestAs If From HeavenBoys and Girls Who Rule the WorldFern FunnelCeltic Feet

Link Roundup 09-29-2007

The Barn And The Sky

I’ve shown this photo a couple of times on the blog, once in my article titled “Create Dramatic Images by Shooting for the Sky“. Even so, I haven’t shown the post-process for the photo — somehow it slipped by without getting blogged.

This was taken out in the middle of the Palouse one sunny afternoon. I was visiting back home in North Idaho, and I went out for a photodrive (like a photowalk, but in a car) with my Dad and Brother. We went from Coeur d’Alene to Moscow (where I went to college) and back again, stopping along the way at anything of photographic interest. This old abandoned barn was just off a service road that connected to the highway, so we pulled off to check it out. I started playing around with my wide angle lens, and I found some interesting compositions (such as this one) between the clouds, the barn, and the hills. The interesting thing about the barn, is that it has the appearance to be leaning. Some of it is from lens distortion, but it’s also because the barn really was leaning.

The Barn and the Sky Process

The JPEG (1) had kind of a darker blue tone to the sky than I wanted, so I fixed it up a little bit when I processed the RAW (2) image in ACR. After cleaning up a few dust spots, I applied a Curves Adjustment Layer (3) with an “S” curve to increase the contrast and start bringing out the color I was looking for. Then I increased the Saturation (4) just enough to finish off the color in the sky and the grass. This photo also got a little bit of Sharpening (5) just to give a little better definition in the grass and along the edges of the clouds. So this one didn’t really get a lot of Photoshop attention — it didn’t need it.

The Barn and the Sky

** You can also see this photo on Flickr and Zooomr **

Photo by Brian Auer
06/03/07 The Palouse, WA
The Barn And The Sky
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D
Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM
15mm equiv * f/11 * 1/250s * ISO100

Quick Tip: Shoot With Purpose

If you want to make your photography outings more productive, there’s no better way than to have a predetermined reason for taking photos. If you go out to take pictures just for the sake of taking pictures, you may end up getting a few keepers out of the random collection you’ve gathered. Not only that, but if I go shooting without a specific purpose, I feel kind of empty when I get done — like I didn’t really accomplish anything.

I’m talking about having a specific theme or idea to center your photo shoot around. Maybe things like: red objects, circles, signs, minimalism, blue, people, water, squares, birds, orange, cars, dogs, macro, zig-zags, yellow, neon, reflections, windows, parking meters, green, trash cans, curves, shoes, chaos, wind, sun, happy, sad, angry, statues, weathered objects, food, stickers, graffiti, patterns, yada yada yada — the list goes on and on.

You’ll find that if you have something specific to look for, you’ll start seeing photos in places you would have never otherwise noticed. It’s not to say you should limit yourself from shooting whatever comes your way, but don’t rely on “whatever” to get you a great collection of images. I bring this up because my recent Experiment with Minimalism really drove this idea home for me.

Also, my buddy Trevor Carpenter is taking this concept to a higher level, and he’s called it the “October Challenge“. Trevor is going to focus on black & white photos for the entire month of October as a means to improve his photography skills. The idea is that “limiting yourself can actually unlock creativity that you’ve never had before“, and I think he’s probably right. Anybody else going to join in? Be sure to read up on these black and white photography tips. If you do, remember to tag your Flickr and Zooomr photos with “OctoberChallenge” so we can all keep up on each other’s progress. I’ve signed up for minimalism — so we’ll see how this goes.

How Many Lenses Do You Own?

In this week’s poll, I’m curious to find out how many glass collectors we have out there. Vote for how many camera lenses you have in your possession. I’ve seeded the poll with 1-5 lenses, but if you have more just add the number. I only have 4 lenses right now, but I could see myself with many many more in 5 or 10 years. I have a Konica Minolta 18-200mm zoom, a Sigma 105mm macro, a Sigma 10-20mm zoom, and an old Minolta 50mm f/1.4 prime that I use for super-macro work. What do you have? What’s your favorite? Tell us in the comments.

How Many Lenses Do You Own?

And the results from last week’s poll (How Many Hours Do You Post-Process?) indicate that the majority either spends less than 1 hour in the digital darkroom, or 2 hours on average. We also have some folks spending over 6 hours per photo (smart alecs?) and some spending no time post-processing.

Edit My Photo — by Ron McCoy

Yet another “Edit My Photo” project entry, and this one is from the guy who came up with the project idea — my Grandpa, Ron McCoy. This is now the 9th official entry into the project, and all current entries can be seen at the temporary project results page. So here it is, and here’s how it was done:

Processing by Ron McCoy

Post-processing by Ron McCoy
Photo by Brian Auer

Using Photosuite 7 for my photo adjustments,

  • Exposure: darken the dark areas, lighten the bright areas
  • Moved the saturation up to 120
  • Straighten the horizon and cropped
  • Cloned the buoys out
  • Masked the water around the bird and raised the contrast to 20
  • Resize to 600 pixels

Epic Edits Weblog Site Updates

Totally not photography related, but I felt the need to share. I’ve made quite a few little changes on this website, and I just wanted to point some things out for any new arrivals (and for those who read the feed without coming to the site too often).

I haven’t changed the overall design in quite a while, but I’m constantly updating the sidebars and the way certain pages operate. I’ve really tried to start the process of simplification on the site, so nearly 100% of what I show in sidebars or other pages I find to be relevant to photography in general. Most noticeably, the sidebars lost a little weight and clutter.

SIDEBARS

The “Info Center” will get you what you need. Most notably are the new email subscriptions.

The “Weekly Poll” and “Current Project” spots speak for themselves. Do note that I’ve added a running entries page for projects.

The “Del.icio.us Reads” are straight from my bookmarked list of useful photography articles.

I’ve moved my blogroll and favorite photographers to a separate page.

The “Top Commentators” list shows who has the most comments in the last 15 days — so you have to keep on top of things to stay on it. These are real links, by the way, so it’s an easy way to get a link from me.

POSTS

Not much has changed here — I still display 5 full articles on the main page, and I still offer full feeds.

Something to note about article comments… I’ve removed the “nofollow” tag from the links. It’s been this way for a while, but that’s another way to get real links to your sites. Do keep in mind that I keep an eye on every comment that comes through. If I see somebody leaving a lot of useless two-word comments, I’ll delete them. I haven’t had to yet, but don’t try me.

OTHER STUFF

Without getting into too much detail, there have been a few little updates and changes here and there. My best advice is to come to the site and click around until you get a feel for what’s here.

Also, I finally added a cache plugin to help battle traffic waves from places like StumbleUpon and Digg. My host has shut the site down a couple of times in the past, but we managed to make it through over 8000 pageloads in less than 24 hours the last time StumbleUpon made a presence. The cache plugin shouldn’t make any difference to the site functionality; it really should speed up pageloads if anything.

UPCOMING CHANGES

I’m planning on upgrading WordPress sometime in the near future, so things might be a little wacky for a couple hours when that happens. I might also spring for a completely new layout, so if you come here and see a totally different site, don’t leave — it’s still me.

Minimalism in Photography: An Experiment

The Secret Window
Also on Flickr & Zooomr

Minimalism is a 20th century art movement and style that stresses the idea of reducing a work down to the minimum number of colors, values, shapes, lines, and textures. The topic is highly subjective (as most topics of art are), and open to interpretations. Minimalism can generally be summed up by the phrase “Less is more”, and some of the best examples of minimalism are nothing more than a stripe of paint on a canvas.

What prompted my to write about this topic? A fellow photography blogger, Antonio Marques, is hosting a “Minimalism in Photography” group project. I’m a fan of interesting projects, and I thought this topic would be a great opportunity to learn some new things and share my findings. I’m constantly on the lookout for new ways of challenging myself and improving my photography, and it turned out that this little experiment is shaping up to be more than just that. So here’s how I went about this project.

Gated Entry
Also on Flickr & Zooomr

THE PREPARATION

Before I even started thinking about taking photos, I did a little research on the topic of Minimalism. Words are great, but I wanted to see some images to start giving me an idea of the different flavors of this topic. I just started using Google Desktop, and I found a couple of gadgets that pull photos from Flickr. One of these gadgets allows you to type in keywords, and it shows a slideshow of photos with that keyword. So I typed in “Minimalism”. For several days, I’ve had minimalist photos flashing before my eyes over in my sidebar. There are some really great photos that came up, and I got all kinds of ideas on what minimalism in photography meant.

If you’re not using something like Google Desktop, you can also just go straight to the source and do a Flickr or Zooomr search. I find that going through other people’s photos is a great way to find new inspiration. It’s really amazing what you can find on these photo-sharing sites.

T-Bar
Also on Flickr & Zooomr

TAKING THE PHOTOS

Rather than going back through my existing photos and looking for something that appeared to be minimalist, I decided to go out and get some new material. I headed into Del Mar on Saturday morning with the sole intent of capturing minimalism. This was a tough exercise for me because I’ve never really focused on the topic before. As I stepped out onto the sidewalk, I kept repeating to myself “simple, minimum, shapes, lines, colors, empty space, look up, look down, walk slow…”

My mind was in a different place than usual, and I started seeing interesting compositions hiding in the most unlikely places. I walked up and down side streets and back alleys searching for simple geometries that I could compose. I found myself taking photos of the weirdest things: sign posts, benches, handrails, dumpsters, walls, stairs, etc. I must have looked like a total nut job standing in the middle of the sidewalk pointing my camera at mundane objects. Oh well, I got my photos.

It didn’t take long before I had a pretty good set of photos in my camera. The more I got into it, the more opportunities I started seeing. I even doubled back on a couple sections and found totally new stuff. In total, I spent less than 2 hours taking photos, and now I’m itching to get back out and try some more.

Del Mar Blues
Also on Flickr & Zooomr

PROCESSING THE PHOTOS

I spent a little less time processing these photos than usual — maybe one hour each. My time to edit was reduced for several reasons, mostly because of the simple nature of the material — I had less to work with. The other reason my processing time was reduced was because I had a notion of what I wanted to convey with the images: simple. This doesn’t mean that I processed all of them exactly the same, and they still have their own unique flare.

I noticed that it’s a whole lot easier to work with masks when you have nice clean lines and blocky colors. This is probably where most of my time was saved, since much of my masking is often done by hand. In the end, I’m not disappointed with how they turned out, but I may end up going back to a couple of them for another round of work.

Brute
Also on Flickr & Zooomr

FINAL THOUGHTS ON MINIMALISM

I went into this project not knowing much about minimalism. I’ve come out with a hunger to learn more and experiment with my work. It’s very addicting, and you start looking at things differently. Once you train your mind to pick out the simple shapes and compositions, you start seeing a whole different place. You can almost always find simplicity even in the most chaotic scenes.

If you want to learn more about minimalism in photography, get out with your camera and try it! There’s not better way to learn it.

Edit My Photo — by Libeco

Here’s another “Edit My Photo” project entry, this time from Libeco. This is now the 6th official entry into the project, so the top spaces are going quick. This, along with the other entries can be seen at the temporary project results page. So here it is, and here’s how it was done:

Processing by Libeco

Post-processing by Libeco
Photo by Brian Auer

I started by opening the picture in Adobe Camera RAW and applied these settings: Exposure: -1.30, shadows: 1, Brightness: +116, Contrast +82, Saturation: +69. After that I straightened the horizon with the help of the measure tool and rotate canvas -> arbitrary. Then I cropped the picture to a portrait layout.

Next step was applying a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer where I only changed the saturation value to +55. Next I applied a curves adjustment layer with kind of a curly S with the black point pulled down quite a bit and raised the white point just a little. Next I added another hue/saturation adjustment layer where I only changed the saturation to +36 and masked out everything but the sky.

Finally I copied the background layer and applied the unsharp mask with an amount of around 150%, a radius of 2.7 pixels and a standard threshold of 0. Then I masked out the edges of the bird just a little bit with a small brush and low opacity. I copied that layer and masked out everything but the sky and a part of the water. Next I used the plugin noiseware to remove the noise (full noise reduction setting), which also blurred everything a little.

Edit My Photo — by A.B. Cole

Here’s an “Edit My Photo” project entry from A. B. Cole. This is now the 5th official entry into the project, but 9 others are working on theirs as we speak… right guys? This, along with the other entries can be seen at the temporary project results page. So here it is, and here’s how it was done:

Processing by A.B. Cole

Post-processing by A.B. Cole.
Photo by Brian Auer

I use Aperture for 98% of all my post processing work. Meaning if the images did not come out as I planned and can’t be pushed within Aperture, they are trashed. So your image challenge was harder then I though it be.

After you nudged me to try harder… I dropped the image into iPhoto. The adjustment are as follows:

Crop 3000×1992
add .05 Exposure
add +28 Contrast
add +74.0 shadow
add 100% Saturation

Edge blur (1)
boost color (4)
White Matte (1)

Export as a .jpg
Trimmed a bit of the white matte off.
Send to you…