Staying on the Italy Theme Today

This is a brand new photo I'm posting for the first time.  I love super-wide angle!  This was taken handheld with my Tokina 11-16mm 2.8 (@ 11mm).  I bracketed with 3 shots +-2 stops.  I was very pleased that I didn't have much ghosting since I had to do this handheld.  If you must start pixel-peeping you could find some movement but overall it came out very well.  Post processed with Lightroom, HDRed with Photomatix and made better with Photoshop.  Enjoy.

I Have a Hard Time with Titles; Looking for Help

If you have ideas for a title, please let me know

Today's photo was from a couple weeks ago.  I just happened to get around to working on it.  This was in the far Northeast portion of Okinawa.  We saw this massive beach (a photo of that is forthcoming) and nobody was there except on fisherman on this outcropping.  We parked in a pull off area and started looking for a way down.  Eventually Amy found a small opening where there was a rope for climbing down to the beach.  After we got to the beach I headed for the rocks and saw this wonderful view.  I took this in the late afternoon so the sun was low enough to give some sidelight to the hills.  Since it was still afternoon, I used my Vari-ND filter and turned it to 7 or 8 stops of reduced exposure and that was enough to get the silky smooth water in one of my bracketed shots.  I then combined 3 shots (+-2 stops) in software (HDR Efex Pro 2 this time) and brought it back into Lightroom.  I then went into Photoshop CS6 and did some targeted adjustments to get it to its final form.  This is my first photo that I didn't take into Color Efex Pro in a long time.  My increasing work in Photoshop is "potentially" going to mean I won't have to bring my photos into that program very often.

So here's the controversial question... Is this a photograph?  I briefly described my process above and I'm curious what people think of how I go about getting this look.  It is not "natural"; it is not what came out of one image.  My bottom-line is it is my creative expression; therefore, whether I take one photo and immediately publish it or spend hours on several tweaking them digitally, does it really matter?

Anyone have some recommendations for titling this photo.  I have such a hard time coming up with good titles for my photos.  More at

Photo Redo

This is an out-of-cycle post today.

The day before yesterday, I showed a photo from Tachikawa, Tokyo, Japan. I've also mentioned that I'm in the midst of becoming more knowledgeable of Photoshop. Yesterday, I decided to tweak this Tachikawa photo to see what I could do with my very basic Photoshop knowledge to improve it. There was nothing too dramatic, just some targeted color adjustments and brightening. Here's the basic insight; the old one had too much yellow in a lot of places and had too much of a dirty feel, I wanted to get them closer to white, yet still maintain the gritty and harsh shadows of the night scene. While this still isn't one of my best photos, it was a good learning exercise about selections, adjustment layers etc. I still have a long way to go to become half-way proficient with this program but I'll just keeping plugging away.

Here's a direct link to the old one. Click Here.

Interested in whether you think this one improved it, made it worse, or no difference.


Derelict in the Desert

We're going back to the desert tonight for this photo of an old derelict abandoned at an old gold processing mill at Joshua Tree National Park.  I hiked about 1.5miles back to this old mill, but the mill itself was not that interesting.  Along the way, there were a number of old cars that were left there after the place closed sometime back in the '60s I think.  

If you read my post yesterday, you know I'm starting to learn Photoshop CS6, so I brought this one in to Photoshop to play around with some colors and contrast isolated on the car.  I almost went a little hog wild and started thinking about mixing color and B&W in the same photo, but decided to come back off the ledge and keep it... well not exactly real, but not too crazy.  Enjoy.

Araha Beach Sunset and My Photoshop Challenge

This is a beautiful and popular location here on Okinawa (I think you can see why below).  While I love this photo, I want to use this post to talk about a new photographic adventure I'm pursuing.  I'll admit it, Photoshop scares me!  It's an intimidating beast, not to mention an expensive one as well.  I have been relying on Lightroom and a number of plug-ins to get my look and style (Photomatix to combine exposures and Nik Software's suite of products to further enhance).  I do use Photoshop Elements are rare occasion for some occasional minor league masking and some healing/clone work, but the idea of tackling the full Photoshop and all it's capabilities was too daunting and time consuming.  BUT, I've decided its time to take my post-processing, and therefore my photography, to the next level.  Will I bring every photo into Photoshop?  I'm not sure, we'll see, but not having the knowledge of this important program will leave me at a loss and I don't want to get stuck into a rut and not push my knowledge further.  The ironic thing is, I work for an education institution and I can get this program at an extreme discount (maybe even free; I have to do some checking with our IT people at work) so the cost really isn't the issue; it's been my desire to keep my workflow simple and probably some laziness thrown in for good measure.

So far I downloaded the trial version and am going through some tutorials to get the basics.  I'll branch out from there.  I am really interested in some of the tutorials offered by Jay Patel, Varina Patel and Chip Phillips to start.

So back to the photograph.  This is the first photo that I used Photoshop CS6 to make a change.  It was a subtle change but made a world of difference on the photo.  The photo below is my final version, but scroll down further to see the photo I made the change too.  See if you can makeout the difference.






Did you see the difference?  

The photo I brought into Photoshop had a yellow color cast in the tree on the far right.  In the final version I was able to bring it back to green to better match the vegetation in the rest of the photo.  This would have been very difficult in just Lightroom, but once I knew how in Photoshop it was a breeze.

I hope this long post about Photoshop and comparing two versions of a photo doesn't take away from enjoying the final result, but this is part of my photography journey.  So please click on the final version and enjoy it large on your screen.

Surprising Results

This photo is a reminder that what you think you accomplished on location can be very different when you get it back to your computer to work on them.  As I have mentioned in several posts, the weather here in Okinawa has been challenging for getting good land/oceanscape images.  This was a Saturday and I, at the last minute, decided to run out to try and get sunset shots since the weather was looking promising.  Since it was last minute, I didn't plan very well.  I initially decided to go to a new location where I never shot before, but as I was trying to get there, the traffic was insane.  It happened to be Golden Week in Japan and since Okinawa is a tourist destination, the roads were pretty jammed with visitors.  As I'm watching the sun go down below the buidings and stuck in traffic, I made a quick decision to turn around and head to a familiar location (the traffic heading the other way was very clear).  I am speeding along watching the sun get lower and lower and starting to chalk up this excursion as a loss.  I hurriedly pull into the parking lot, grab my gear and head over to a location to setup for capturing the sunset.  As you can see from this shot, the sky is not very clear; actually it is extremely hazy, that's why the sun is so round and orange.  I don't normally like these type of sunsets but I was there so I decided to do what I could with it.  As I was thinking while driving, I pretty much discounted anything good coming from this session, but I decided to keep going and get a broad range of shots including bracketed and long exposure.  I didn't move around much because the sun was gone about 5 minutes after I arrived so I basically kept the tripod in one place and played around with different settings.  I was thinking the only good thing to come out of this trip was meeting another photographer who was taking photos in the same area.  His name is Chris DeAngelis and you can check out his great photos by clicking the link.  

The photo below is my final result after a lot more post-processing than I normally go through.  Continue on below the photograph for more info on why I invested the time and a brief explanation of how I did this.



As I was reviewing the photos from this trip I was trying to figure out if there was anything there; asking myself if this could be a good photo.  Since I bracketed (shot 3 photos at different exposures, +2, normal, -2) I decided to process this as an HDR to see what would result.  I sent it to Photomatix and started to see some potential.  The sky was good, but the water was boring.  Also by doing the HDR I was able to get the island on the right to be clear and not silhouetted.  But I still wasn't happy with the shot because the water was taking away from the photograph.  I wanted the water to have the smooth, silky feel from a long exposure but didn't have that with the bracketed shots I used for this set.  Later in the shoot, I did do some much longer exposures that made the water very smooth so I decided to do something I don't do very often, go into Photoshop.  I took my HDR final and a highly overexposed, long exposure shot and brought them into Photoshop.  I put the HDR shot with the good sky to the front and put the long exposure photo behind and then using an adjustment layer I painted out the boring water and brought the long exposure water to the front.  Now I did some other minor tweaks in Photoshop but that was the main change.  I saved it and brought it back into Lightroom and made some additional changes with the primary one being putting in a graduated filter adjustment to the water to reduce the exposure by a small amount so it wasn't so bright.   

The bottom-line is to not give up on photos even if you think you don't have anything while on site.  Another is take lots of photos with different settings.  There's no way I could have completed this if I didn't play around with some long exposure just before I left.  Lastly, learn some basics of Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, which has 90% of what the full Photoshop has.

If you like this, please share it with your favorite Social Media site.