Lynmouth Weekend – 1

This is another image from our weekend with the family in Lynmouth, North Devon.  We arrived first, on a rather grey, late February afternoon.  The light was going, but we just had time for a very quick walk down from our rented cottage into Lynmouth.  This first image from a Lynmouth series is looking up the River Lyn from the road bridge.  Since the light was going and the colour image was a bit ‘flat’, I thought it would be good to try another B&W image.  It was another chance to play with the newly acquired NIK collection.  This time I picked a B&W preset from the HDR Efex Pro 2 tool and applied it to a single exposure.  Apart from the ‘halo’ between the sky and the treeline, I was quite pleased with the result after I had made some fine adjustments.  I should have taken time to remove the halo, but time is in short supply at the moment.

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Our cottage was a couple of ‘zig zags’ up the road on the left hand side of the picture.  We needed to do ‘3 point turns’ to get around the corners.

I hope to continue posting images from Lynmouth, but maybe not as a continuous series.

 

 

 

Groyne at Blue Anchor Bay

About a month ago, we were lucky enough to spend a weekend with our eldest son and family, at a cottage in Lynmouth, North Devon.  On the way there, we took a scenic route along the coast of North Somerset and I snapped this groyne at Blue Anchor Bay.

Initial thoughts on the image were not promising, but today I was looking for something to try out Silver Efex Pro 2, now that Google have kindly made it a free download.  I stumbled on this one, and found the program pretty user friendly.  I chose one of the presets which gave this ‘grainy’ look, boosted the contrast a little more and arrived at this.

I think it is much more pleasing to my eye that the original colour image.

Groyne at Blue Anchor Bay

Maybe it is an overly simple shot, being no more than a row of old wooden posts, leading off to the water, and eventually to the coast of Wales in the distance.  There are a few Gulls on the shoreline, and the grainy processing has done them no favours, but I still quite like the final result.

There would have been many alternative ways to present this shot that would have proved more attractive to some eyes, perhaps on a different day to my eyes, but this is today’s effort.

River Thames Walk – A New Start to my Photo Musings

It’s been a long time since my last post, a very long time at nearly a full year.  It seems to have been difficult to find the time.  To be fair, we have been quite busy, with other priorities and this state will continue for a while.  I have, however, always enjoyed blogging and intend to carry on.  I can only hope that some of my blogging friends are still out there, and spot my attempt at a restart.

I’m not going to spend too long on this post, otherwise I may not get going again.

This is just a few of the shots that I took along the south bank of the Thames when Dee and I visited our youngest son back in January.  I won’t, on this occasion, write about the images.  I’m just trying to remember how to produce a blog post, and WordPress have changed things a bit!

Under Tower Bridge

Standing

Standing

Multi-Tasking

Walking the Dog

Sharp Building

The way to St Paul's

Across the River

Across the River (B&W)

Home Sweet Home

Pilgrim Father

Thames Skyline

Bridging the Thames

Lines & Grids

 

This was just for practice.  I will blog again soon.

Monochrome Moments – 5 (More Sand, and a Stick)

This one continues from Monochrome Moments – 4, it also having been taken in the dunes of Fuerteventura.  This was a snapshot taken because of the potential appeal of the intersecting diagonals of the sand ripples and stick.  Monochrome conversion was again made with Topaz, and I also chose to retain a ‘warm’ look to the image because it seemed in keeping with the scene.  I did consider a more ‘stark’ B&W conversion, but didn’t like any of my results as much.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is another of those rather minimalist images which, when you look back, you wonder whether it was really worth taking.  Having played with it a bit, I think it probably was, just.

Update!

I wasn’t really happy with this image so I took some advice from Adrian Lewis.  I’ve increased the contrast a bit (quite a bit), and the result is below.  I could probably go still further but think this may be enough.  I didn’t do this before because I am always a little nervous of ‘overprocessing’.

Stick and SandAny better?

Monochrome Moments – 4

I rarely go back to my ‘holiday’ snaps, looking for potential monochrome images.  A recent post from Mike Osborn’s prompted me to look at some old photos from Fuerteventura, and I think that I must start doing it more often.  I found this one.  It’s not as good as Mike’s, but it does show that the sun doesn’t always shine there.  I quite liked the drama in the sky, and also the receding ‘mountains’ (really only little volcanic hills).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used a slightly ‘warm’ conversion from the Topaz presets because I thought that it might fit with the actual colours of the landscape better.  Personally, I think that the mono image is better than the original, which I have included below for comparison.  I know that the original shows the sand colour correctly, but mono shows more drama in the sky and the wind blown ‘ripples’ in the sand more clearly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFuerteventura is a barren island in the Canaries, best known for sunshine, beaches and strong winds, which give the island it’s name.  These images are from the Sand Dunes immediately south of Corralejo, at the north end of the island.

Pembrokeshire – 2

As we were walking back from the Tidal Mill shown in Pembrokeshire – 1, I spotted an Egret and a Heron, busy fishing in front of the castle.  I knew that they would get a little ‘lost’ in the frame, but there was a pleasant foreground, so I grabbed the shot anyway.

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The Egret is in the centre and the Heron is off to the right.  They seemed quite happy to be sharing the fishing.

Dave’s Summer Snaps

This week, our Camera Club had ‘a member’s evening’.  As it was early in the new winter season, we were asked to produce short slide shows showing what we had been up to during the summer.  Happily, there were more than enough presentations, so mine was not required.  Just as well really, since it wasn’t very imaginative.  Having gone to the trouble to produce it though, I thought that I might as well publish it as a blog post.

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Here are a few of the places that I have snapped this summer.

To me, summer starts in May. So here are a few snaps taken between May and September. They’re not my best photos from this summer. They’re just a few random snaps pulled from my Lightroom archive showing some of the places that I have visited.

My wife and I went to Cyprus for a week. It rained non stop for 24 hours while we were there, but I still managed a few snaps. Here is one of Archbishop Makarios, way up in the clouds in the Trudos Mountains.

wpid-20140511-_5110115.jpgOne of a ruined village snapped on the way back to base.

wpid-20140511-_5110137.jpgThe weather improved just before we came home! (This was at Latchi)

wpid-20140513-_5130176.jpgIn mid May, we visited friends in Nottingham, and whilst there we went to the Derwent Valley, where the Dam Busters practised.  This is a stitched panorama of the reservoir that they used for practise.

wpid-Derwent-Valley_Panorama1.jpgWe also visited the Papplewick Pumping Station. This is their workshop, which is a bit tidier than mine.

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We also took a stroll by the River Trent.

wpid-20140519-_5190249.jpgIn June, we tried Greece for a coach tour. The weather was better than Cyprus, but not always great. I also had a fall and damaged my camera on the first day. Elastoplast held it together for the rest of the holiday.

We saw the sun. (this was at Volos)

wpid-20140607-_6070113.jpgWe visited museums (lots of them, all over the place).

wpid-20140608-_6080293.jpgAnd ruins. (This was on the way up to the Acropolis in Athens)

wpid-20140606-_6060067.jpgAnd churches.

wpid-20140608-_6080240.jpg wpid-20140612-_6120769.jpgSaw statues.

wpid-20140609-P1010143.jpgAnd mountains.

wpid-20140611-P1010356.jpgAnd bridges.

wpid-20140610-_6100521.jpgAnd lakes. (This was at Ioannina)

wpid-20140611-_6110693.jpgAnd monasteries at Meteora.

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wpid-20140613-_6130841.jpgBack at home in June, we visited Lyme Regis (when the tide was out).

wpid-20140617-_6170006.jpgWe went to a Speed Hillclimb at Gurston Down (actually, we went a couple of times).

wpid-20140622-P6223933.jpgWe’ve been out on the Somerset Levels.

wpid-20140624-P6244519.jpgWe were at the Merryfield Open Evening.  This is a local RNAS training airfield.

wpid-20140625-P6254579.jpgIn July I spent an evening in Weymouth.

wpid-20130113-P1130091.jpgIn August we went to Portland several times. I love St George’s Church.

wpid-20140810-_8100049.jpgTo RSPB Arne several times.These aren’t birds but the birds kept moving!

wpid-20140813-_8130029.jpgWe also went for a walk which took in Iford Manor Gardens.

wpid-20140820-_8200086.jpgAnd Henstridge Wings & Wheels. These two should really have been in a Derwent Valley photo. Photoshop maybe?

wpid-20140823-_8230056.jpgWe were in Pembrokeshire last week, where we:

Saw some misty mornings over the water. (Cleddau Estuary)

wpid-20140905-_9050002.jpg wpid-20140905-_9050004.jpg wpid-20140905-_9050005.jpgWatched the sun set over Skomer Island. (from Martin’s Haven)

wpid-20140830-_8300057.jpgWalked some of the coast opposite Milford Haven. (Gas Tanker unloading, taken from Angle).  Another stitched panorama.

wpid-Milford-Haven_Panorama1.jpgWent to some lovely beaches. (This one is at Little Haven).

wpid-20140830-_8300012.jpgPlayed with a ‘cheapo’ chinese fisheye lens. (Near Little Haven and the Cleddau Bridge)

wpid-20140830-_8300018.jpg wpid-20140831-P8310091.jpg Met an Artist. (at Carew Castle. He was painting the Castle and the Tidal Mill)

wpid-20140905-_9050052.jpg wpid-20140905-_9050055.jpgOh, and we also did a few jobs around the house and garden!

That was some of our summer.

I hope that I will soon be able to start posting a little more frequently.  Please keep an eye open.

 

 

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.