A Little Bit of Speed – 2

My last post, ‘A Little Bit of Speed – 1‘, tried to depict speed by the use of ‘background blur’.  This image is completely different, and shows the ‘motion blur’ of the subject when the camera is not ‘panned’.  This is also from the same Speed Hillclimb at Gurston Down, and shows one of the entrants accelerating off the start line.

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A Little Bit of Speed – 1

I haven’t posted since early May, and I feel very guilty.  I’ve been busy and haven’t had much chance to get near my photos.  Just to make sure that I could still remember how to post, I thought that I had better make some time.

This is a shot that I took at Gurston Down Speed Hillclimb back in June.  It’s one of many, and attempts to depict ‘speed’.  With that in mind, I have given it a little help in post processing, which sadly is probably very obvious.  I’m not much good with Photoshop, still learning, or trying to.

wpid-20140622-P6223999-Edit-Blur-2.jpgI hope to produce a few more posts soon, but I am still short of time so I’m still not able to read all of the great posts on the blogs that I follow.  Sorry for that.  Things should get better soon.

 

An Elephant photo, treated using Topaz Detail 3

Last year, I posted ‘Elephants 3 – Another White Elephant, with Zebra (Mono)‘.  That image was shot back in 2006, when I was using a Sony DSC-H1 Bridge Camera.  I really liked the image, but the small sensor in that camera made it difficult to obtain much ‘selective focus’ and the image was too sharp from front to back.

Because I liked the image, particularly when presented in B&W, I decided to use a variation of it in a recent B&W Camera Club competition.  I’ve often said that I am not much good at using Photoshop, but regardless of this limitation, I felt that I needed to try to simulate some ‘selective focus’ in this image if I was going to use it in a Club competition.  I spent ages selecting different parts of the image and using layers to apply different levels of blur.  I wish that I hadn’t bothered.  The Judge didn’t like it, easily picking out those parts of the image that I had ‘worked on’.  I just wasn’t clever enough! :(

Last year, I purchased the Topaz Suite, but didn’t have the time of patience to learn how to use the various parts of it properly.  This week, I thought that I would have a bit of a look at Topaz Detail 3, an application intended for selective sharpening of images.  I’ve still got a lot to learn, and I still lack patience, but I have been very impressed at how this software can produce excellent results.

I thought that I would apply it to the original ‘jpeg’ file of that Elephant photo.

In this post, I have presented a series of efforts to improve this image.  I hope that the differences are clear enough to show just what a ‘pigs ear’ I made of it before moving on to Topaz Detail 3.  Here goes.

The first image is the jpeg straight out of my Sony DSC-H1

Original jpeg from camera.

Original jpeg from camera.

The next image was a B&W conversion using one of the Lightroom presets.  I can’t remember which, but I was going for a fairly high contrast result.

Initial B&W conversion.

Initial B&W conversion.

The next image is where things really started to go wrong.  I attempted to use my pathetic Photoshop skills to simulate some ‘selective focus’ in the image by using a number of layers with differing levels of Gaussian blur.  It took a long time to select the elephant layer and the result wasn’t great.

Attempt to simulate 'differential focus' using Photoshop layers.

Attempt to simulate ‘differential focus’ using Photoshop layers.

It must be remembered that these last two B&W images were produced because I thought that the image lent itself to use in a Club B&W competition.

Some time later, after investigating Topaz Detail a little, I thought that the selective sharpening (and softening) available in this program might be useful for simulating ‘selective focus’.  I gave it a try, and these next two images took only a few minutes to produce.  Maybe there is scope for improvement, but I quite like them as they are.

After a few minutes work in Topaz Detail 3.

After a few minutes work in Topaz Detail 3.

B&W conversion after a few minutes work in Topaz Detail 3.

B&W conversion after a few minutes work in Topaz Detail 3.

Here they are again in a carousel so they can be displayed at a larger size where the differences are more evident.  Click on the first one to display the slide show.  Esc to end it.

I think the attempt to simulate ‘selective focus’ in the Topaz worked images is more subtle and was certainly achieved much more quickly.  Please feel free to comment as I know that I still have a very long way to go in improving my PP skills.  In particular, I always have trouble deciding just how much of an adjustment to make.

Springtime in the woods

It’s time for a walk in the woods.  Actually, this is a mere stroll compared with the day before’s hike around Culbone.  After the mild winter, it has been everyone’s expectation that this year will see an early show of bluebells.  With this in mind, we decided to take a stroll around some local woodland to see what we could find.

There was no carpet of blue yet, but where the most light and sun could find its way through, there were some well developed flowers to be seen.  I think primroses were still stealing the show but bluebells were on their way as well.  Compared to last year, I think the bluebells are probably 2-3 weeks ahead, at least in this wood.  There were also plenty of other spring blooms on show.

The final image in this gallery is a very strong clue as to where this woodland can be found, though it doesn’t look quite as it did a few years ago.

I’m not posting very regularly at the moment, but please keep an eye open to see what may come next.

Culbone Panorama, North Somerset

There has been a lot of attention to the Somerset Levels of late.  Well, not all of Somerset is flat, and below sea level.  Last Thursday, we set off on one of our fairly regular walks with our good friends Annie and Roy.  We normally try to follow the weather and the forecast suggested that there would be more sunshine on the north coast, than there would be on the coast of Dorset, so the decision was taken to drive to Porlock Weir and do what was described as a 6 mile circular walk, with some steep inclines.  We started with a quick snack in the pub, and then set out for Culbone Church, which I’ll cover in another post.  After that, we decided that we had enough car parking time to complete the circuit so off we went, climbing nearly continuously.  Thankfully, there wasn’t quite as much sunshine as forecast and the weather was very pleasant for walking.  The sun did shine for this panorama, which was taken from Culbone Hill, at an altitude of about 1250 ft.  Our walk peaked out at just over 1300 ft before we started to descend.

wpid-Culbone_Panorama1.jpgThere were several times on this walk where we thought that we wouldn’t make it within our car parking time, but we did, with about 4 minutes to spare.

The panorama is an accumulation of 9 images, stitched in Photoshop.  As always, a blog post can’t really do justice to a panorama, but with enlargement, the coast of Wales can be seen very clearly.  One feature of this walk was that we saw a truly huge number of sheep with very young lambs, some of which I am sure were new born on that day.  The field on the right is full of sheep without lambs.  Although not visible without enlargement, the fields in the centre, and further down, were where the ewes with their lambs were.

When we arrived back at Porlock Weir, we decided that this hike was probably enough for a couple of septuagenarians and their wives.  The muscles were certainly aching.  Maybe I should return to walking the Somerset Levels. :)

I’ll try to post about Culbone Church soon, so please keep a look out.

Bubbles

No posts for a while.  Sorry, but I’ve been busy.  Posts will probably be a bit thin for a while but here is a quick one just to try and keep things going.  I’m sorry, but I’m not keeping up with reading and commenting either.

This is a first try at photographing a bubble, attempted last night with the YPG photo group.  The intention was to illuminate a Union Jack with flash and capture the reflection in a bubble.

wpid-20140408-_4080160.jpgToo many light sources in the room me thinks!  There were several photographers trying to get a shot and with ‘off camera flash’ it was inevitable that someone would be using a simple ‘slave’ setup.  Hence, when my flash fired, then so did theirs.

I’ll try again in a more controlled environment.

Thanks Derek, for providing the setup.  Thanks also, for the many ‘bubble blowers’ that puffed through the evening.

Portland Bill – Bike Trials 3

Today, it is the turn of Neil to have his Bike Trials skills featured.  Of the three lads that I photographed last Saturday, it is Neil with whom I have been corresponding and embarrassingly, when I look through my images for that day, I find that I have far fewer shots of him.  I’m sure that this isn’t due to anything other than my own inability to look in three directions at the same time, and I can only apologise.

Some of Nick’s and Bo’s skills are shown here and here.

There will almost certainly be more posts of this shooting session in the future.  If you are interested, then please come back for another look.

Portland Bill – Bike Trials 2

Portland Bill – Bike Trials 1 showed a young man called Nick practising his Bike Trials skills on the large rocks in the area.  In this post it is the turn of one of his friends Bo, to demonstrate his ability in this sport.

I’ll show some shots of Neil in the next post.  Please come back and take a look.

Portland Bill – Bike Trials 1

Last Saturday, while Dee was shopping in Weymouth with her friend Susanne, I headed for Portland Bill to take a few photos.  It was a lovely day, which made me think that Spring had arrived.  The downside was clear blue skies, which were not ideal for photography.  When I arrived, I started with a few regular shots of the area but I wasn’t inspired.  I was about to give up and move on, when I spotted three young men riding bikes over the large rocks in the area west of the lighthouse.  I watched them for a few minutes and thought that just maybe there were a few photos to be had.  Having asked whether they would mind I started firing off a few frames. Their names were Neil, Bo and Nick, and they were practising the skills needed for the sport of Bike Trials, much like the Motorcycle Trials that I used to watch when I was much younger.  The idea is that the only thing that should touch the ‘ground’ when riding over obstacles is the tyres of the bike. I was impressed and spent a while firing off about 150 shots before realising that I needed to go and collect Dee and her friend.  Rather than bore you with a whole series of shots in one post, I’ll pick just a few at a time.  Sometimes things were happening so fast that I had trouble keeping up and framing correctly.  None of the shots were posed. First a couple of shots showing Nick getting some air under his tyres.

There will be more posts in this series so Bo and Neil will have their time.  Please come back and take a look.