Tag Archives: colorful

Graffiti Artists

Graffiti Artists

Brian Auer | 03/08/2008 | Venice Beach, CA | 105mm * f/2.8 * 1/1000s * ISO200
[See it at Flickr]

I’ve been so tied up with film lately, so I wanted to take a look back at a digital photo that had quite a bit of post-processing done to it. This photo was taken at the graffiti walls in Venice Beach, California. I’ve always been attracted to graffiti as an art form, and being able to capture one of these artists at work was a treat. This area is designated for graffiti artists, so there’s no vandalism happening here.

Graffiti Artists Post-Processing

I wanted this image to really pop with color and intensity, while having an “edgy” look to enhance the mood. The photo was shot in RAW and processed entirely through the Adobe Camera Raw software (so no Photoshop). Here’s the process:

  1. Unprocessed RAW
    The RAW file looks pretty bad. It’s too cold, the contrast sucks, and the colors are dull.
  2. White Balance
    First things first, I corrected the white balance issue. The camera was set to “Auto WB”, but it made a really bad decision. So I bumped the temperature from 5500 to 7500 and the tint from +3 to +10 by setting the image to the “Shade” preset (since this was taken in the shade).
  3. Exposure
    I set the exposure to -.20, recovery to 36, fill light to 24, blacks to 17, brightness to +59, and contrast to +34. Not a huge change in the appearance of the photo, but it got my tones and histogram where I wanted them.
  4. Saturation
    I set the clarity to +85, vibrance to +33, and saturation to +11. Again, not a huge difference in the appearance of the photo, but these changes would be amplified in the next step.
  5. Curves
    I set the point curve to “strong contrast” and the values of the parametric curve as: highlights +32, lights +43, darks -49, and shadows -8. This really super-saturated the image and boosted the contrast way up. This wasn’t a linear one shot adjustment either — there was a lot of back and forth between the curves and the exposure/saturation values.
  6. Vignette
    I added some lens vignette with an amount of -75 and a midpoint of 60. This darkened the near and far edges while toning down the super-saturation — which helps to draw attention to the center portion of the photo.

This may be a bit extreme for your tastes, but I wanted to push the photo until it was alive with color.

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.

February Challenge Recap

February Challenge

The February “Colors” Challenge is officially done and over. This was a really neat project because it made me focus on a specific color as the main subject rather than just some object, person, or scene. Each color has its different quirks, both in capturing and post-processing, so it was good to explore those things and learn about them.

My biggest benefit from participating in the February Challenge is that it’s given me a new appreciation for black & white. After a week or two of shooting and processing nothing but color, I started getting really frustrated that I couldn’t turn some of the photos black & white. Luckily we had a photowalk in the middle of the month, so I really cranked out the black & white photos from that. I think I’d probably feel the same about color if I were forced to shoot nothing but black & white — I need both to be satisfied.

Here are my photos from the entire challenge:

CLEAR

Glass Flower

Liquid IceShot Glass Mirror

Clear was kind of fun and challenging. I guess most people wouldn’t consider it a color, but we tend to speak of it as if it were. In my first shot, I was going for the wild color display since clear takes on whatever color happens to be behind it. In the next two shots, I wanted to capture more of a traditional clear “color” by removing anything colorful from the surroundings. After finishing the whole project, I’ve got to say that clear was the most difficult color to capture — so I’m glad the first week was a short one!

YELLOW

Yellow Tail

Piña RefrescoTonkaMAG 30Peppers and PeanutsPedestrian CrossingChinese Art

Yellow was also a fussy color to deal with. There aren’t a lot of things out there that are yellow, and the things that are yellow tend to be somewhere between green and orange. I get the feeling that nobody can agree on what yellow looks like. The Legos I shot for the Tonka Truck picture were from several different sets. Not only was yellow the least available color of all the blocks, but each brand had a different yellow.

RED

Red Glass

Silver on Red22 LanesHappy Little Men

After picking two slightly difficult colors, I decided to go with something a little more friendly. Red was kind of fun to shoot, and it seemed to be more readily available than yellow. One lesson I did learn about red is that the tail lights in traffic are far less bright than the headlights. My long exposure traffic shot barely registers the red lights, and there was about the same amount of traffic on either side of the road. If somebody knows the secret to getting the tail lights to stand out more in these types of shots, I’m all ears.

GREEN

Cabbage

StickersGuacGlide

I was initially going to avoid green because it’s the most abundant color out there. I gave in though — I couldn’t keep passing up all that green just for the sake of being stubborn. One good place I found to shoot green: the produce section at the grocery store. I think the employees at the local grocery store are over me by now. I’ve been in there about a dozen times with my camera.

BLUE

Powering Down

I would have like to shoot more blue photos, but I just started winding down at the end of the green week. My goal was to shoot a photo every day, but I ended up missing one day during green. Then blue came along and I just kind of stopped picking up the camera. Oh well, too late now.

February Challenge: Day 11 – Silver on Red

Silver on Red

WEEK 3 = RED

Silver cup, bowl, and chopsticks on red clock mounted to a wood display. This was a gift from my Grandfather… not sure where he got it from.

Seeing as how it’s Valentines Day this week, I thought Red would be a suiting color.

To see the rest of my February Challenge photos, check the “Challenge” category here on the blog or visit my Flickr Set.

February Challenge: Day 10 – Chinese Art

Chinese Art

WEEK 2 = YELLOW

And that concludes week 2 of the February Challenge for me. Still have no idea what color I’m doing for week 3, and I only have about an hour or two left before the clock strikes midnight.

To see the rest of my February Challenge photos, check the “Challenge” category here on the blog or visit my Flickr Set.

February Challenge: Day 8 – Peppers and Peanuts

Peppers and Peanuts

WEEK 2 = YELLOW

Some colorful handmade decorations at my Grandfather’s house. Not sure what it’s supposed to signify, but I’m pretty sure it has to do with Chinese culture.

To see the rest of my February Challenge photos, check the “Challenge” category here on the blog or visit my Flickr Set.

February Challenge: Day 6 – Yellow Tail

Yellow Tail

WEEK 2 = YELLOW

Wine bottles at the grocery store. Yellow Tail is supposedly an Australian wine, but I’m curious if any Australians have even heard of it (I’m not a big fan of wine, by the way). These ones really stood out because of their bright yellow labels. In this shot, I was testing out my brand new 50mm f/1.4 set wide open. This lens has some crazy shallow DOF! Here are a few other shots from the grocery run:

To see the rest of my February Challenge photos, check the “Challenge” category here on the blog or visit my Flickr Set.

February Challenge: Day 5 – Tonka

Tonka

WEEK 2 = YELLOW

Yellow Tonka truck dropping off a load of yellow Legos (or whatever brand they are). The interesting thing about yellow is that nobody can seem to decide what color yellow really is. There’s even quite a bit of variation between brands of building blocks. Also, I think yellow is the least occurring color in the Legos — we have a ton of these things, and this is all I could scrape up.

I’m posting this one as day 5, but it was actually shot on day 7. I had a bit of a mishap with my memory card on the 5th — so I lost a set of shots of this same scene. Not sure what happened… I put the memory card in the computer, it wouldn’t read it, i tried putting it back in the camera, it wouldn’t read it either, I tried reformatting with the camera, wouldn’t do that, so I ended up reformatting on the computer. It worked, but it wiped out all my pictures and it was 2AM at that point. I ordered up another memory card to use as my main card — not sure how well I trust this one anymore.

To see the rest of my February Challenge photos, check the “Challenge” category here on the blog or visit my Flickr Set.