Twists of (Photography) Life / Lavender post

24 08 2012

It is over a month since my Zenfolio account expired and I decided not to reactivate it. I had subscribed to them a year ago when my photography goal was to get to international market. This goal was dismissed in later part of previous year, though, as I wanted to focus more on my family. Isn’t it ironic that it was not before I cancelled my Zenfolio account when I sold my first photos of this year? Moreover, it was through a web where I hadn’t sold anything until now, that’s in last 2 years? Not mentioning that appx. in the same time I received a proposal from a NY gallery to display my work (OK, supposedly a vanity gallery so I rejected the offer – which was overpriced anyway) and a request for special photo from my good friend. If these late actions should have changed my mind about leaving international photography market, well, they didn’t. Sometimes there’s nothing else but smile upon such twists of our lives. And by the way, those sold photos were from the peony triptych posted last time here.

~ Lavender Bowl ~
0.3 sec. @ 100 mm, f/8, ISO 100

Now about lavender photos of which accompany this post. Lavender. The flower with intoxicating smell and evoking summer. I tried to take photos of this purple beauty several times but never with any pleasing result. When my wife was cutting the first flowers this year I gave it another try. I tied the fresh flowers to small bouquet and tried to take photos of them with different subjects. A wooden bowl from Ikea won after all. I processed photo above with an intention to give it a summer “burned” look. Like an old photo left behind a glass somewhere at home.

~ Lavender Bowl 2 ~
1.6 sec. @ 100 mm, f/20, ISO 100

This is a photo of the same arrangement as in the first photos, just another clip and processing emphasizing the saturated purple colour. Shadows are quite dark here because the light coming from the window was on the right side but this is the best I achieved no matter how hard I tried.

~ Lavender Ribbon ~
1/30 sec. @ 100 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100
~ Tied Tight ~
1/8 sec. @ 100, f/5.6, ISO 100

I think that the two photos above could make a nice diptych (however not so close to each other) but they can stand quite well also alone. The focus here is more on the ribbon and even though the lavender is only partially in the frame or even focus, it’s still her who plays the main role.

I saw a lot of photos of lavender posies and so I tried to capture it differently. You are judges.

Have a great rest of the summer!

P.S. I have photos for coming posts already so it’s only a matter of time when I will get to process them.

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The Nature Conservancy Photo Contest 2011

21 07 2011

I informed about the TCN Photo contest previous year and now it is here again. Here goes the message:

The Nature Conservancy is holding its 6th Annual Digital Photo Competition. This year, it’s easier than ever to enter using your Facebook log-in info – http://photocontest.nature.org/ or through The Nature Conservancy’s Flickr Group – http://my.nature.org/photography/flickr.html.

Original digital photos that feature the natural wonders of the lands, waters, plants, animals and people around the world are all eligible for the competition.

This year at least 35 photos will be selected as honorable mentions and finalists, and our online community will vote for their favorite images to determine the winners. The grand prize winner will be featured on the cover of the 2013 Nature Conservancy calendar.

This competition is open to all photographers age 18 years or older regardless of residence or citizenship, as long as the laws of their jurisdiction allow participation. Photo submissions must be uploaded by 11:59 pm PST Monday, September 12, 2011.

For more details, please visit http://photocontest.nature.org/ and feel free to contact me with your questions.

Consider your participation.


~ Crucifiction ~
0.8  sec. @ 100 mm, f/14, ISO 100

When I was looking for a photo to accompany this message I came up across this one which wasn’t posted , yet. It is direct shot of central part of Miltonia orchid blossom. The flower was on a windowsill backlit by afternoon sun light. I was amazed by the patterns and colours.

Have a nice rest of the week!

Technical information: all photographs in this post were taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm USM macro lens on a tripod, in natural conditions.





Orchid Painting

15 03 2010

No, I am not a painter. I did several fantasy doodles in my teen years but that’s all. Yet what you can see below is a painting of our blooming orchid. Well, it’s not a painting really, it’s a photo which I wanted to convert to something that would look like as much as a real oil painting as possible. Was I successful? Click on the photo to enlarge it and judge for yourself.

~ Phalaenopsis Twins ~
1/3 and 1/2 sec. @ 100 mm, f/11, ISO 100, 2 stacked images

Now I’d like to share some information about why and how it was done. If you are interested, read on 🙂

I took this photo of two orchid blossoms a month ago and made only basic processing – stacked 2 images, which I had to take to have both blossoms sharp, plus a series of common adjustments (saturation, contrast, retouching, cloning the unwanted part of stem out etc.) The problem was that the photo was taken against a black background and it was a bit, well, boring. You can see the enhanced original photo on the right side. I put the image aside as I didin’t exactly know how to make it more interesting. I was thinking about using some texture overlay but was not really striving for it. I posted some other photos, for example these from the same session, and I came back to this photo only couple days ago. I decided to browse flickr pages for some free textures and stuck on amazing painted textures by clive sax. Even before I saw them I was playing with a thought of converting this photo into a painting and when I saw clive’s outstanding golden texture I knew that I want to match the texture with this photo and produce something that will look as close to the real painting as possible.

After an hour of searching the net for some useful tutorial on converting photos into paintings and another appx. 6 hours of playing with filters and blending modes in photoshop I got it.

To sum the process up, I did following steps:

  1. complete post-processing of the original photo (contrast, levels, saturation, sharpness, cloning etc.) in Lightroom 2.5 and Photoshop CS 4 (PS),
  2. applying the Golden Texture 2 by clive sax (thanks Clive!) as a new layer over the photo in PS,
  3. carefully erasing the texture to uncover the photo behind it,
  4. aplying gaussian blur on the background layer to take DOF into play,
  5. flattening the image so the next processing will affect both the photo and the background, giving it a uniform look,
  6. following excellent tutorial on photoshopessentials.com (to make it short it consists of adding saturation, applying Glass filter [Filter/Distort/Glass], Paint Daubs filter [Filter/Artistic/Paint Daubs], Angled strokes filter [Filter/Brush Strokes/Angled Strokes], Texturizer filter [Filter/Texture/Texturzer] and applying emboss overlay to make the brush strokes more plastic). This was the most difficult part as I had to find out the set up of filters which will look best.

And that’s it. One important thing is that a photo processed this way can’t be resized much with awaiting that it will still look great. The best way is to resize the original photo before the step 6 and then do the step 6 on the resized image. You will very probably need to tweak the settings of filters again to match it resized image. You can see comparison of 100% cropped original photo after step 5 and after step 6 on the left side. Pretty impressive, isn’t it?

I hope you liked this post and image.

Enjoy the early spring!

Technical information: the photo was taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro lens upon tripod, indoors, under natural light.





Christmas Cactus (A tripod test)

24 11 2009

It’s been a while since I posted information about my purchase for a tripod and you may already wondered when I will post some first experience and shots from a tripod testing. Well, the time is now 🙂

To start from the beginning, the very first test shooting was a disaster. I bought the tripod with intention to be able to take photos inside our house during upcoming short days so it’s obvious that I wanted to test it in these conditions. With the Christmas Cactus already blooming the subject for testing was clear. It was a nice sunny day (Saturday 2 weeks ago if I remember well) sun wasn’t shining directly to the room, yet, so I had a nice strong natural ambient light, cactus standing on the wooden dining table, camera upon the tripod and the testing started. I already found pleasing composition beforehand so I just started shooting. I decided to go to a Live View mode, 5x magnification and then I immediately noticed that whenever I touch the camera, it moves. I “pushed” it with every single push of any button. When I removed my hand the camera came back to its original position so it was not a problem at all. First I tried some shots with shutter speed around one second (with 2s delay which automatically shoots in mirror lockup mode) and was surprised when I saw that the images were blurred 😮 I immediately recognized what was the problem – it was the floor! In Live View mode I could see that my every move on the floor makes the image on LCD to move.

We have wooden floors in the house and they seem to be quite soft. Made of wooden planks, it often creaks (is it the right word?) on certain places and bends down when stepped on on others. You can also notice smaller things rattling on table, fridge and so on when you go over the room fast 🙂 So, I tried some different positions and places in the room and became almost desperate because the only thing I found out was that if I want sharp images I need enough light for shutter speed > 1/2 s. And before you ask, no, I couldn’t try any other room. Our kitchen is currently the only available room due to windows position and due to the fact that we (meaning me, my wife and son) share our house with my wife’s parents and grandparents and I don’t want to bother others with my hobbies.

As I said in the beginning, the first shooting was a disaster. I had 0, yes, ZERO, usable photos after maybe an hour of shooting.

I had another chance after a week during next weekend. Maybe I was more patient or what but I have found out that some planks are maybe less soft… :), anyway, this time I took some photos that I dare to present here even thought they are far from what I would proudly present. Still I find them appealing.

The first one is rather a test of post-processing skills as it consists of 6 stacked images automatically aligned but manually stacked in PS CS4. The background is our beech table with a bit enhanced colour. I’m a complete newbie in shooting against “blank” background so any tips are welcome 😉 See larger version, please.

6x 1/2 sec. @ 100 mm, f/10, ISO 100, stacked manually

For second image I was attracted by bright green colour of back-lit cactus “leaves” and I especially liked the contrast between a back-lit and not back-lit leaves.

1/5 sec. @ 100 mm, f/8, ISO 100

For the final image I looked for some see-throughs and even though I didn’t find any suitable, I really liked how a group of backlit blossoms was almost glowing with white, red and all the shades between them.

~ Red Vision ~
1/30 sec. @ 100 mm, f/5, ISO 100

I like how the small bud on the leave is “hidden” from the light and guarded by soft thorns. Several names for this image came to my mind and the one I like most is Red Vision. It’s like looking on the world through a window covered by a raspberry jam (think of anything YOU like instead of jam) 😀

Technical information: all images in this post were created with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100 f/2.8 USM macro lens upon tripod, and under natural conditions.

I hope that you like it and am impatiently awaiting your comments.

It seems that Father Autumn don’t want the Lady Winter to rule the world yet, so enjoy every single warm rays of sun light you have, they’ll be cooler soon!





“Leavesfalls”/Chrysantemums

1 11 2009

As I wrote in previous post I felt certain demotivation in taking photos in last month or so. It was mainly caused by dismal weather –  misty mornings, overcast days with low level of light, dying and rotting flowers, leaves, bushes, this all played its role. When I returned from work it was already cold and dark outside so it was much better in warm inside. I had known that I needed to get over this feeling on my own but I also knew that it won’t be easy with nothing in bloom nowadays.

Last wednesday we had a bank holiday and when I was walking in our garden I was surprised by chrysantemums in full bloom. There were 3 different kinds: full blossomed dark red, star blossomed pale orange and full blossomed bright yellow. I observed them a bit and noticed that due to the fog and light drizzle the blossoms were literally soaked with water and covered by “millions” of small water dropplets. It caught my attention and I thought that it might be worthy to take couple of photos of them. I got inside, grabed my camera and got outside quickly and I felt better than in last weeks. Then I played with shooting close-ups of single blossoms, bending over them, squating under them, moving a bit to the left and a bit to the right, you all know this dance 😀 After taking some 150 photos (a usual amount for one theme) I hurried home, downloaded phototos to PC and while I was looking at my results I felt much better and I felt the demotivation disappearing.

Here you can see 3 photos which I considered as the best.

Chrysantemum-I

1/100 sec. @ 100 mm, f/4, ISO 320, 2 stacked images for wider DOF

Chrysantemum-II

1/80 sec. @ 100 mm, f/4, ISO 800

Chrysantemum-III

1/100 sec. @ 100 mm, f/4, ISO 500

Technical information: all photos were taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro lens under natural conditions (fog, drizzle, overcast).

I want to append a short story about the name that I chose for this post. When I was looking for some information about these flowers on the net I found out that they have beautiful name in Czech – listopadka. This name is derived from the name of November which is in Czech “listopad” and means “leaves fall” or “leaves are falling”. I liked this name so much that I decided to create it in English and use it as a name for this post – Leavesfalls.

My message for today is: whenever you find yourself demotived from taking photos, it’s only you who can help you. Try to grab all the power you yet have in yourself, take your camera, look for something interesting and try to capture it until you are satisfied with the result. Try to focus only on taking pictures, leave anything else out of your mind and I’m sure that not only it will help you but you will feel better and you will come out with some interesting images! — Similar message was posted a long time ago on blog by Michael Brown and here I resend it to others.

Enjoy even these miserable wet and cold days and try to find something beautiful every day. Beauty surrounds us all the time!





Notocactus

20 08 2009

Today I would like to present here photos of a cactus of genus Parodia, also called Notocactus. The genus has about 50 species with beautiful fragile blossoms with colours ranging from white/grayish through yellow and pink to bright red. The one in my wife’s collection bloomed some 2 weeks ago with wonderful bright yellow blossoms with reddish petal tips and fantastic purple pistils. I couldn’t resist to take a couple of photos.

Notocactus-I

1/500 sec. @ 100mm, f/5.6, ISO 200

Notocactus-II

1/125 sec. @ 100mm, f/13, ISO 200

Notocactus-III

1/200 sec. @ 100mm, f/6.3, ISO 100

Technical details: all photos were taken with Canon EOS 450D and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro USM lens.

I hope you like it. Enjoy the ending summer!





A calla lily (Zantedeschia)

12 08 2009

I bought this flower (of genus Zantedeschia) to my wife couple months ago. It was blooming very nicely so I took following photos but maybe a week or two later it loose the blossoms and leaves’ colour started to change to yellow. Nowadays it’s outside in our garden bloom-less and we wait if it will survive or not. I hope that yes because it’s  really nice flower.

To mention something about it I can say that it has very nice curved (and sometimes curled) leaves in colour of dark green with white spots, blossoms are rather big with thick petals and they can be found in various beautiful colours which varies from immaculate white through yellow, pink and red to very dark violet/purple with tints of black.  But beware, it’s very poisonous and its poison is so strong that it can kill a pet or even a child when a part of it is swallowed!

Zantedeschia-I

1/125 sec. @ 150mm, F10, ISO 800

Zantedeschia-II

1/50 sec. @ 111mm, F10, ISO 800

I-A-Border-772px

~ Floral Curves Series ~
1/200 sec. @ 165mm, F4, ISO 200

The last image is an abstract of these beautiful colours and it belongs to my Floral Curves Series.

Technical information: all images were taken with Canon EOS 450D, Canon EF L IS USM 70-200mm F4 lens and Hoya close-up +4 filter.

Your comments are really appreciated. Enjoy the summer while it is still here!