Category Archives: PhotoBlog

Selected photos of mine, and how I created them.

Simply Religious

Simply Religious

Brian Auer | 02/09/2008 | La Jolla, CA | 75mm * f/2.0 * 1/8000s * ISO100
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

This church in La Jolla, California caught my eye for its stunning white simplicity. The clear blue sky also helped to compliment the building and its elegance. I was on a photowalk, and we had just started down the road toward the beach and everybody was excited to get shooting. And so, I framed the building to include mostly sky while leaving a good portion of the church (and its surroundings) left to the imagination. I took two shots with different compositions of this church top, and this one turned out best.

Simply Religious Post-Processing

  1. Unprocessed RAW
    This one turned out a little overexposed. I shot it at f/2 with my 50mm lens and it pushed my shutter speed up to 1/8000, maxing it out. I probably should have set the f-number to at least f/2.8.
  2. Processed RAW
    Mainly I just recovered the highlights and darkened the overall image, getting it ready for Photoshop.
  3. LAB Saturation
    I saw that the blues were a little muddy, so I ran it through my LAB Saturation Photoshop Action and brought out the color while adding a bit of contrast.
  4. Clone & Sharpen
    Somehow I sort of forgot to deal with the little bit of brickwork on the bottom edge, so I took that out with the patch tool. Then I sharpened it up a bit.
  5. Curves Adjustment
    I wasn’t totally happy with the tones and colors, so I added a curves adjustment to bring up the highlights and push the shadows down. I left the blending mode to “Normal” so the blues would get a little punch too.

Enjoy!

Field of Yellow

Field of Yellow

Brian Auer | 04/13/2008 | La Jolla, CA | 15mm * f/8.0 * 1/160s * ISO100
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

This one was taken along the shores of La Jolla, California. I was out with my wife this weekend and we decided to take a short trip down the Pacific Coast Highway from Carlsbad to La Jolla. The shores of La Jolla are some of the most scenic in the area — lots of small cliffs and sandstone formations, caves, vegetation, tide pools, etc. I shot this scene with my Sigma 10-20mm lens at the widest focal length of 10mm. I’ve been ignoring that lens for a while, so I put it on the camera and left it there all day… well, I had my film camera with me too so I wasn’t completely limited on focal length.

Field of Yellow Post-Processing

  1. Unprocessed RAW
    Here’s what the unprocessed RAW image looked like — pretty dull and a little washed out.
  2. Processed RAW
    I cooled the white balance slightly, increased the contrast, increased the vibrance and saturation, and added a few other minor tweaks to the exposure settings.
  3. LAB Saturation
    I used my LAB Saturation Photoshop Action to bring the colors out a little better. This helped to remove some of the muddy haze in the sky.
  4. Dodge
    Selective dodging around the green of the waves and on the left side of the flowers at the bottom of the frame.
  5. Burn
    Selective burning in the sky and on the right side of the flowers to add more balance.

Enjoy!

Radially

Radially

Brian Auer | 03/08/2008 | Venice Beach, CA | 75mm * f/4.0 * 1/60s * ISO100
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

This was shot using all natural light (it was in the shade on a very sunny day) and the camera was handheld with a 50mm lens. This plant caught my attention as I walked the canals of Venice, California — it was along the sidewalk behind the houses. The pattern was so very strong, and the colors so deep that I couldn’t pass it up. The water droplets on the plant were just icing on the cake.

Radially Post-Processing

  1. Unprocessed RAW
    Straight out of the camera — untouched.
  2. Processed RAW
    I did a few basic adjustments to get the white balance correct and to bring up the contrast and saturation. Nothing very extreme though.
  3. Dodge & Burn
    Here, I used non-destructive dodging and burning techniques to really make the contrast stand out where I wanted it.
  4. LAB Saturation
    Using the technique I outlined previously for boosting saturation via LAB color mode, I strengthened the greens that are so inherently present.
  5. High Pass Sharpen
    I used a very subtle sharpening by running the high pass filter and setting the blend to overlay at 50% opacity.

As you can see, lots of little changes really add up from start to finish.

Abused and Ignored

Abused and Ignored

Brian Auer | 03/08/2008 | Venice Beach, CA | 75mm * f/2.5 * 1/8000s * ISO200
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

I found this beautiful lady in Venice Beach. She didn’t say much, but I think she was into me. Don’t let her distant stare fool you, she had quite the personality. Underneath of her “I’m sexy and I know it” facade, she’s screaming for attention. Because she is, after all… abused and ignored.

Abused and Ignored Post-Processing

  1. Unprocessed RAW
    There you have it, straight out of the camera.
  2. Processed RAW
    Minimal processing for white balance and exposure (using the “Auto” setting in ACR).
  3. Color Curves
    I used the technique from my “Redscale Process” described some weeks ago. After adjusting the curves, the blend mode was set to “color”.
  4. Color Fill
    Again, from the mentioned Photoshop technique. Opacity set to 20% and blend mode to “color”.
  5. Luminosity Curves
    Added some contrast to make it a little more punchy. Blend mode was set to “luminosity” to preserve previous color adjustments.

Now if I could figure out how to create the same effect in ACR I’d be pretty clever.

Feet on the Beach

Feet on the Beach

Brian Auer | 01/19/2008 | San Diego, CA | 300mm * f/6.7 * 1/250s * ISO100
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

This one was taken on the Torrey Pines State Beach near my home in San Diego. The feet actually belong to my Mother-in-Law. I spotted her walking along the water near sunset and I couldn’t resist trying to get some “walking on the beach” photos. I shot about 7 or 8 in rapid-fire mode and this one turned out the best from all of them. The reflection turned out better than I had hoped, and the moment in mid-stride made for an interesting photo.

Feet on the Beach Post-Processing

All of the following post-processing steps were done with Adobe Camera Raw — no Photoshop was used on this photo.

  1. Untouched RAW Image
    This is what the image looked like straight out of the camera. Not a lot of color to begin with, so black & white was a natural choice for me.
  2. Black & White Conversion
    Before doing anything, I switched to grayscale. I pushed the red, orange, yellow, green, and aqua to negative compensation while the blues, purples and magentas were pushed in the positive direction.
  3. Basic Adjustments
    I left the white balance set at a temperature of 5100 and a tint of -1. I left the exposure near zero, while I boosted the recovery to 33, fill light to 41, bumped the blacks up to 34, increased the brightness to 76, pushed up the contrast to 19, and I ramped the clarity all the way up to 100.
  4. Tone Curve Adjustment
    Using the parametric tone curve, I set the highlights to +22, lights to +49, darks to -33, and shadows to -47. This gave me the strong contrast I was after, and I actually pushed a few (very few) of the shadows off the histogram. Overall, the image is heavy on the darker tones.
  5. Vignette and Sharpen
    In the lens correction menu, I set the vignette to an amount of -70 with a midpoint of 20 — and this gave me the strong frame around the subject. As a last step, I set the sharpening under the detail menu to an amount of 50 with a radius of 1.5 pixels.

Enjoy!

Wide Open

Wide Open

Brian Auer | 02/23/2008 | San Diego, CA | 15mm * f/6.3 * 1/1000s * ISO100
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

When the wind is just right, the skies above Black’s Beach team with para gliders and hang gliders. This particular shot was taken at a 10mm focal length (15mm full-frame equivalent) as I stood very near the edge of a 300 foot sand cliff above the Pacific Ocean. The gliders ride the updrafts as the wind comes off the ocean and shoots straight up along the face of the cliff. These thrill seekers can ride these winds for extended periods of time and never lose altitude. The Gliderport is located on the Torrey Pines State Reserve, nestled between the beach towns of La Jolla and Del Mar. La Jolla can be seen in the background of this photo as it extends out into the ocean to form a point. And those little dots on the sand below… those are people.

Wide Open Post-Processing

All of the following post-processing steps were done with Adobe Camera Raw — no Photoshop was used on this photo.

  1. Untouched RAW Image
    This is what the image looked like straight out of the camera. Not too shabby, but it needed some work on a few areas. I decided to keep the color on this one because of the sky in the upper portion of the image.
  2. Basic Adjustments
    I set the white balance to a temperature of 5500 and a tint of +8. Then I brought the exposure to -.5, set the recovery to 100, no fill light, blacks at 13, brightness at +14, contrast at +35, clarity at 35, vibrance at +17, and saturation at +7. Do note that a lot of these settings weren’t made in this order — there’s a lot of back-and-forth between these settings and the settings on the other two panels I used.
  3. Tone Curve Adjustment
    I set a “strong contrast” on the point curve, and added some extra contrast on the parametric curve with highlights set to -28, lights at +26, darks at -13, and shadows at -4.
  4. Vignette and Sharpen
    In the detail panel, I set the sharpening to an amount of 50 and a radius of 1.5. In the lens corrections panel, I added some positive vignette. So instead of darkening the corners, I lightened them to even out the image and brighten the foreground. At 10mm, my lens tends to produce a slight amount of vignette, so I punched up the value in ACR to +50 with a midpoint of 0. I lost some contrast in the clouds (which I over-contrasted just for this reason), but I gained a whole lot of brightness in the lower left corner.

Enjoy!

The Place To Be

The Place To Be

Brian Auer | 02/09/2008 | La Jolla, CA | 19mm * f/4.5 * 1/400s * ISO100
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

This shot was taken during the La Jolla photowalk in early February. At the time, I found the scene to be very interesting — the hut, the birds, the people, and the ocean in the background really seemed to work together in this candid shot. I kept things fairly well centered because of the strong symmetry already present in the hut. The Birds and the people served to break up that symmetry in isolated areas, so I didn’t feel I needed to break it up even more. Lucky for me, I also left some extra room at the top of the frame, which served as a nice backdrop for some heavy vignette.

The Place To Be Post-Processing

All of the following post-processing steps were done with Adobe Camera Raw — no Photoshop was used on this photo.

  1. Untouched RAW Image
    This is what the image looked like straight out of the camera. It could probably work as a color image too, but I wanted to go colorless.
  2. Black & White Conversion
    Before doing anything, I switched to grayscale. I pushed the red, orange, yellow, green, and aqua to negative compensation while the blues, purples and magentas were pushed in the positive direction.
  3. Basic Adjustments
    I left the white balance set at a temperature of 5800 and a tint of +3. I left the exposure, recovery, and clarity set to zero, while I boosted the fill light to 46, bumped the blacks up to 36, dropped the brightness to 16, and pushed up the contrast to 52.
  4. Tone Curve Adjustment
    Using the parametric tone curve, I set the highlights to +41, lights to +39, darks to -44, and shadows to -76. This gave me the strong contrast I was after, and I actually pushed a bunch of the highlights and shadows off the histogram.
  5. Vignette and Sharpen
    In the lens correction menu, I set the vignette to an amount of -76 with a midpoint of 19 — and this gave me the strong frame around the hut while filling in some of that sky. As a last step, I set the sharpening under the detail menu to an amount of 50 with a radius of 1.5 pixels.

Enjoy!

Grand Cayman Fuel Depot

Grand Cayman Fuel Depot

Ryan Goodman | 11/03/2006 | Cayman Islands | 27mm * f/22 * 1/4s * ISO100
[Project Announcement at CameraPorn.net] [See it at Flickr]

This week’s photoblog is another special edition. The photo once again isn’t mine, but it’s one that I processed. Ryan Goodman ran a project asking his readers to revisit and retouch one of his photos. I’m a little late in getting around to doing the project, but the deadline is January 25 — so you still have a bit of time to get an entry in if you’re interested in participating.

I wanted to give this one a go with black & white, and after checking the sky on the underexposed version of this image I knew I wanted it to be kind of dark and looming. So here’s how I went about it.

Grand Cayman Fuel Depot Post-Processing

To see the original files, check Ryan’s project announcement page. The RAW files were all cropped and rotated as seen in my final output.

  • 0 EV Base Layer
    Processed in ACR for overall brightness, contrast, etc. This layer serves as a base layer to build upon.
  • -2 EV Composite Layer
    Again, processed in ACR. I masked out the layer and “painted in” the areas I wanted to darken via the mask. Then I set the blending mode to Multiply in order to help darken things up even more. I darkened the sky heavily, and the water a moderate amount — leaving the rocks and the fuel depot alone.
  • +2 EV Composite Layer
    Again, processed in ACR. Just like the previous layer, I masked out this layer and started “paining in” the areas I wanted to lighten via the mask. This one was all focused down in the water and rocks. Then I set the blending mode to Linear Light at 60% fill to add an interesting contrast look to the rocks.
  • Black and White Conversion
    Photoshop CS3′s Black and White adjustment layer set to “Red Filter”.
  • Curves Adjustment
    Fairly strong “S” curve to bring out the contrast.
  • Contrast Layer Blends
    Duplicated the output thus far twice. One layer was set to a Linear Dodge layer blend with 16% opacity and 70% fill (to lighten the highlights). The other layer was set to a Multiply layer blend at 10% opacity and 100% fill (to darken the shadows).
  • Sharpen
    Unsharp mask at 100%, 2.0 pixels, and a threshold of 1.

Enjoy!

Railroad Romance

Railroad Romance

Rich Legg | 09/11/2007 | Unknown Location | 104mm * f/5.0 * 1/250s * ISO100
[See it at LeggNet’s Digital Capture] [See it at Flickr]

This week’s photoblog is a special edition. The photo isn’t mine, but it’s one that I processed. Rich Legg ran a small project by calling photoshoppers out to process one of his untouched photos. I barely squeaked my way in by being the fifth one to contact him. I won’t go into all of the details on why I processed this image the way I did, because I’ve already done so on the project results page over at Rich’s blog — so go definitely check it out!

Railroad Romance Post-Processing

  1. Original JPEG
    Here’s what the full-sized JPEG image straight out of the camera looked like.
  2. Processed RAW
    I didn’t do much processing in ACR on this one. Auto Exposure settings with slight adjustments. And I cropped it way down (for reasons mentioned on Rich’s blog). I also cloned out the rock in the bottom right corner.
  3. Curves Adjustment Layer
    I brought up the contrast a little with an “S” curve to start things off.
  4. Channel Mixer Adjustment Layer
    I ran the channel mixer with 34% red, 66% green, and the output set to Monochrome. This made a black and white image, but I then set the blend mode to Overlay and reduced the opacity to 80%.
  5. Saturation Adjustment Layer
    I reduced the saturation by bringing the level down to -35 and leaving the Hue and Lightness alone at zero.
  6. Photo Filter Adjustment Layer
    I used an LBA Warming Filter set at 35% density to warm up the image. I should have reduced this value for web output because the web browsers tend to show things slightly oversaturated, but this is how I sent the file back to Rich.

Enjoy!

Forgotten Fortress

Forgotten Fortress

Brian Auer | 08/04/2007 | Santa Monica, CA | 157mm * f/2.8 * 1/30s * ISO400
[Buy Prints] [Buy Rights] [See it at Flickr]

This one was taken on the beach at Santa Monica in the summer of 2007 during a group Photowalk. The light of day was fading, and the beach was fairly empty. I saw this little sand fortress (complete with swimming pool) and the bucket that was used to make it. The scene kind of struck me as interesting because of the bucket laying there abandoned and the handle detached off in the background. It had a solemn mood about it, so I snapped a few shots as I made my way down the beach.

Forgotten Fortress Post-Processing

  1. In-Camera JPEG
    As you can see, the bright green bucket is probably what first caught my eye.
  2. Processed RAW
    This is unusual for me, but I did a ton of processing in Adobe Camera Raw. I converted to black and white, adjusted my exposure options, adjusted my curves, added a warming tone, and finally added vignette. I’m not sure if I like this method of processing because it leaves me back at ground zero if I want to make some tweaks. Maybe I should start saving the XMP settings for each file… Or is there an easier way to do this?
  3. Curves Adjustment
    Once in Photoshop, I just applied a curves adjustment layer with an “S” curve to bump the contrast and give it a bit more saturation.
  4. Sharpening
    I sharpened the lightness channel in LAB mode using the unsharp mask at 75%, 1.5 pixels, and a threshold of 0.

Enjoy!