I had to fall back on something from early in the month for today's photograph. So, here are some some pink flowers from Kalmia Gardens. Flowers always say "Spring", don't they?
I have been practicing some portrait lighting with my son modeling for me. However, I'm not happy with the results yet. Practice, practice, practice. I'll get the hang of this people picture-taking thing yet.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
In my internet wanderings today I found something that really illustrates the power of modern technology and the internet to stretch the boundaries of creativity in the service of a cause. Now, it doesn't really have anything to do with photography per se. However, with the merging of videography and photography it illustrates a way for artists across the globe to collaborate. It is a music video cover of Ben E. King's classic song Stand By Me for an album called Playing for Change which was put together by the Concord Music Group. The video was recorded around the world with various street musicians progressively building off of previously recorded "sessions". Watch the video to understand what that means.
In a similar accomplishment, a week or two ago YouTube's first symphony orchestra performed at Carnegie Hall. The orchestra was composed of musicians from around the world who auditioned and practiced via YouTube videos. Go see the performance over on YouTube.
Both of these items illustrate how the internet can be used to bring creative artists together that otherwise would not have been able perform together in the past. The world is changing.
Grown-up Cypress Knees (B&W)
The latest episode of Photoshop User TV had a black & white conversion method that I had not seen before. So, I went back to my images from Kalmia Gardens in Hartsville, SC to find a candidate on which to test the new technique. The image above is the result of about 15 minutes of playing around with it. Thus, far I think I like it better than what I had been doing to convert to black & white. More after the jump.
The method uses the HSL color panel in either Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) or Adobe Lightroom. To set it up, you go go to the HSL panel (HSL stands for Hue, Saturation, and Luminance), then to the Saturation sub-area. Here you desaturate all of the color ranges to give you your starting black & white (i.e. grayscale for you more technical types). From this point, you can still use the Luminance area to either brighten or darken the particular color ranges that you want to affect. I.E. if you have a lot of blue sky, you can darken the sky by using the Blue color range slider. Other methods of converting to black & white that I have been using prevented using some of these tools. So, I though it would be interesting to try it this way. Again, I think this has more potential then what I had been doing. Another advantage / trick is that you can use the HSL Targeted Adjustment Tool in ACR or Lightroom if you only know the particular area that you want to adjust but don't know which color range(s) that would need to be used. The Targeted Adjustment Tool will sample the colors in the "original" and adjust those as you mouse up or down. Kind of neat actually.
For this particular image, I noticed that the yellow and green color ranges seemed to dominate the image. For the final adjustments I darkened the green color range, lightened the yellow color color range quite a bit and also lightened the orange range just a touch. Other adjustments included a custom tone curve for contrast, a custom White Balance adjustment to further accentuate the yellows and greens, plus increased clarity and vibrance. A few slight tweaks were also made with an adjustment brush to darken a couple of problem areas. A slight vignette was then added to accentuate the mood of a dark swamp.
Overall, I'm happy with this first try using this new conversion technique. I have set the initial HSL desaturation as a pre-set so that I can apply it quickly. Plus, as my memory ages a pre-set will help me to remember it. ;-)
Here is the original color version:
Grown-up Cypress Knees
Thanks for the tip, Photoshop Guys.
Friday, April 24, 2009
The Hedge Garden
Today has kind of slipped by me. So, here is today's image. Again it is from the Rose Hill Plantion park near Union, SC. This is from the hedge garden again, but a bit more conventional in it's processing than the earlier image.
Now, what am I going to do for next week's images? Hmmm ... going to have to think about that.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Lost in the Hedgerow
The English-style garden at Rose Hill Plantation made me think of all of the ghost stories I have heard or read that where set in similar hedgerows. With those impressions in mind, I tried to make this image express those suppressed feelings we have about being lost in unfamiliar places. I'm not sure that I was successful at it, but at least I am starting to expand my processing beyond just being a recording of what I saw at the time.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Irises and the Porch.
A shot of a couple of iris blooms near the back porch of Rose Hill Plantation. It seemed as if we were at the plantation between blooms. The roses had not yet come out in full, the dogwoods were loosing their petals, the magnolias either had not yet bloomed or had long lost them. However, there were a few irises along one of the walkways near the back porch. It kind of makes you think back to those days doesn't it?
Monday, April 20, 2009
Rose Hill Plantation
Edit: I fixed the link to the larger image above.
This weekend we visited Rose Hill Plantation near Union, South Carolina. It was the home of former SC Governor William H. Gist. Gov. Gist was a staunch proponent of Southern States' secession from the US which eventually led to the Civil War. Because of this, he is known as the "Secession Governor". More after the jump.
Rose Hill Plantation got it's name from the rose and hedge garden that the governor planted around the house. It is indicative of the English box-hedge style garden which was popular among the wealthy of the period. Another distinctive feature of the gardens are the large magnolia trees which now obscure the front facade from the driveway. The trees are thought to be either children or grandchildren of original magnolias brought to the US and which now line the drive at the Augusta National Golf Course. When they were brought to the country, it was believed that they would only grow to about 15 feet high. The governor might not have planted them if he had known how tall they would have grown.
The plantation is now part of the South Carolina state parks system. There are tours of the house, several period out-buildings, a nature trail and large open lawns. A picnic shelter is available for rental as well.
I will post more photographs from the visit throughout the week.
Friday, April 17, 2009
A peach and produce farm near my parents' home has a museum of old farm equipment. This was one of the very old, horse-drawn machines out front. I thought that the old machine and the wooden style of the museum building might have a better mood in black and white than it would have in color. I am not quite satisfied with the final result though. I need to work more on my black & white conversions.
And here is the rest of it.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
We found this little guy/gal warming up on the steps of an observation tower in the Sandhills Natural Wildlife Refuge. It didn't move much while we were there, even though we were pointing cameras at it. It would twist it's head a bit when we moved to make sure we weren't a threat to it though. The neat thing about the little guy is that it has bright blue spots on it's abdomen, which might be kind of hard to see in this shot.
Anyone know what kind of lizard/reptile it is?
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
There was a gorgeous Japanese Maple tree at Kalmia Gardens. The leaves simply glowed from the backlighting. It almost has an Autumn feel, but the leaves of the tree are red rather than green. Have a good weekend.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
The Black Creek Swamp
Kalmia Gardens in Hartsville, South Carolina encompasses a portion of the swamp surrounding Black Creek. This hollowed out tree seemed like a good subject. It made me think of all of the the ghost stories and folklore we grow up with about swamps. In that vein, I processed this image to try to fit that mood.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Hello again, everyone. I am back up and running, mostly. Actually, was back on the internet this past Saturday. However, I had to wait for a USB enclosure to arrive for the 1TB hard drive that had my main photography data on it. The enclosure came in yesterday, and it seems to be working really well. More after the jump.
So, you might be asking what I got to replace the dead desktop. Well, I got an HP dv7-1285 Pavilion "Entertainment" Laptop PC. Ordinarily I would have ordered an upgrade on-line with a custom configuration. However, the systems would not have started to be built until April 17th with suspected delivery near the end of the month. I couldn't wait that long, so I went to our local big box store which actually had a couple system configurations which were close to my needs.
The system I have now is quite nice. A bright 17" widescreen LCD display, 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo, 6 GB RAM, 500 GB hard drive, NVidia 9600M GT video card with 512 MB DDR2 dedicated RAM, 64-bit Vista Home Premium, wireless, Bluetooth, dual layer DVD/CD burner, and enough other acronyms to tongue-tie the Pentagon. I had to make a few compromises in system specs for the convenience of getting the laptop locally, but I think it was worth it in the end. The new set up as cleared a lot of desk space, although I've lost my old tablet due to driver issues. It was a fairly old model and I'm not surprised that it didn't work with Vista. Hopefully, I'll be able to get a new one at some point in the future. I had not yet fully acclimated to using it though, thus I don't see its' loss affecting me too much. A definite bonus is that I now have a dual monitor set-up which is wonderful for processing photographs. I'm not sure that I can go back to a single monitor system now.
Meanwhile, I have started going through those photographs from the recent trip to my parents', but I still have some processing to complete. Getting the new computer turned in to an opportunity to reconsider my processing workflow and storage organization. Thus, I'm still behind on getting those photographs finished up. However, consider the photograph above to be a tease of what else is to come from that trip. I should have a review of a couple books on Photoshop CS4 within the next week or so.
Friday, April 3, 2009
The good news: My son and I visited my parents for a couple of days this Spring Break and we got out to a couple of interesting areas to photograph. So I have a lot of photos to go through.
The bad news: My computer died this morning. It looks like the drive controller on the mother-board has given up the ghost. Luckily, I had recently transferred all of my photographs to a new 1 TB drive so they weren't on the main drive. However, I'm not sure when I'll be back to photo editting. :-( I'll be back as soon as I can.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
And here is the second surprise. When I first saw it, I thought it was a branch floating in the middle of the lake. Then I zoomed in and realized that it was a beaver. There is a beaver in the lake/pond of Cleveland Park in the middle of Spartanburg, SC near downtown! Guess he's an urban beaver.