Winning DPC’s Shot of the Month Competition

I have been submitting images to Digital Photography Course‘s photo review site since I attended their Food Photography Workshop in January last year.  They have three standard competitions; Shot of the Week, Shot of the Month, and Shot of the Year.  After slowly winning a few Shot of the Weeks, this image of mine finally won July’s Shot of the Month!

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One Photo Focus – April 2016

After-Before Friday is an event which allows photographers to share their processed images, and, if they choose, their post-processing steps. On the first Friday of the month, all participants have the opportunity to edit the same photo in the “One Photo Focus” challenge.

My computer had a bit of a moment while processing this image – as hard as it tried, my multi-tasking eventually got the better of it. As I was about to save my edit in Photoshop, it froze.  I lost hours of careful editing, but managed to take a screenshot before everything closed down; so, in the end, disaster averted!  The screenshot managed to retain enough information for me to complete my edit.

Immediately when I saw the image I knew I wanted to create a wintry scene; snow, fog, the works.  I found this tutorial on YouTube which basically dictated my Photoshop workflow.

April 2016 One Photo Focus-1-2.jpg

Close, but not quite yet what I was aiming for.  So, I opened it up in Analog Efex Pro 2 (did you know that Google’s entire Nik collection can now be downloaded for free?!).  I’ve never used any of the Nik software before, so a fair amount of experimentation ensued.  In the end, I added light leaks, a scratched texture, a bit of bokeh and a white vignette which amplified the overall aged effect.

Once again, the before vs the after:

I hope you enjoyed my edit!  I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on the end result. Images from other contributors can be seen here.

 

 

One Photo Focus – February 2016

After-Before Friday is an event which allows photographers to share their processed images, and, if they choose, their post-processing steps. On the first Friday of the month, all participants have the opportunity to edit the same photo in the “One Photo Focus” challenge.

It’s been a while since I’ve taken part, but I hope to be more consistent this year.

1/ First off, I cropped the image and filled in extra sky with Edit > Fill > Content Aware.  Then I added a Camera Raw Filter to darken the exposure and remove the highlight spot in the sky, which was produced by the sun.Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 1.45.56 PM-2

2/ Something was still missing, so I added a moon.Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 1.46.36 PM-3

3/ To create the illusion that the moon was behind the sails, I duplicated the lower layer, changed the blend mode of the duplicate to Darken, and added a layer mask.

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 1.47.11 PM-44/ I merged all of my layers and applied a Camera Raw Filter to increase contrast and clarity, convert to black and white, and add a blue tint.

5/ Finally I tweaked a couple of things in Lightroom and added a vignette.

Once again, the before vs the after:

I hope you enjoyed my edit!  I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on the end result. Images from other contributors can be seen here.

Liebster-Award

First of, a big thank you to mynycphotography for the nomination.

The rules are as follows:

  1. Refer back to your Liebster-Award nominee in your post.
  2. Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  3. Nominate 5 to 11 new blogger for the Liebster-Award.
  4. Put together a new list of 11 questions for your nominees.
  5. Add these rules to your Liebster-Award blog post, and inform your nominees about this post.

These are my responses to mynycphotography’s questions:

  1. Why did you start your blog?

I started blogging for a number of reasons, the main one being that I wanted some constructive critique on my images.

2. How long have you been blogging?

I started my blog in December 2013, so it’s been two years now.

3. How long have been taking pictures?

Technically my first camera was a little throw-away analogue camera, when I was five, but I’ve been taking photos ‘properly’ (in manual mode, with considerations about composition and so forth) since 2012.

4. What is your favorite picture that you shot yourself?

This is a hard one. My favourite image changes multiple times a day, based on my mood.  Imogen Cunningham once said, “Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” As of right now, these are my favourites:

5. What is your favorite picture by somebody else?

Again, this seems to change according to mood, but my favourite photographers include Jake Olson (portraiture), Erik Johansson (fine art), Dina Belenko (still life), Elke Vogelsang (pets) and Peter Hurley (headshots).  A collection of my absolute favourite photos (quick confession: there are over 700!!) can be found on my 500px account.

6. Can you describe your photography style?

High contrast, minimalist, and conceptual.

7. Do you have a favorite object that you like to shoot?

No, but when I’m in a rut I usually revert to backlit leaf veins.

8. Besides camera and lens, what accessory do you use most often?

My off-camera speed-light.

9. Is there a photography skill that you wish you were better at?

Posing portraits.

10. How do you try to improve your skills?

I am currently doing a 365 project, which entails a lot of photography practice, and has hugely improved my photography.  I also enjoy looking at online photography articles.

11. Do you prefer color or black and white photography?

I think both have their place, but generally I prefer black and white photos.

One Photo Focus – November 2015

After-Before Friday is an event which allows photographers to share their processed images, and, if they choose, their post-processing steps. On the first Friday of the month, all participants have the opportunity to edit the same photo in the “One Photo Focus” challenge.  I skipped October’s image (while I was busy studying for my exams) but this month I decided to give it another go.

This month the photo was submitted by Helen Chen of HHC Blog:

I decided to create a halloween-themed image, with skulls, fog and spider webs.

  1. I opened the image up in Photoshop and reduced contrast in Camera Raw, specifically trying to remove the dappled highlights in an attempt to give the illusion that the photo was taken at night.

2. I added several skulls – which I had downloaded off the internet – using the Lighten blend mode. This means that only their lightest areas were shown (I found that this made the skulls look more authentic).

3. I added some ‘creeping mist’ by adding a new layer, clicking on Filter>Render>Clouds and hiding most of the layer behind a layer mask. For this layer I used the Screen blend mode.

4. I felt the inside of the doorway and the mist were in need of some texture, so I downloaded a cobwebs texture off the internet.

Cmd+t was used to fit it to inside the doorway and along the mist. The layer was blended using Lighten.

5. Inside CameraRaw, I converted the image to monochrome and increased the contrast and clarity.

1PF-4

6. I duplicated this layer, selected the corners (using the Elliptical Marquee Tool and then inverting the selection) and applied a layer mask to ensure that only the outer edge was visible.  Then I applied a Gaussian blur filter and a CameraRaw adjustment which darkened the visible areas; this resulted in a heavy, blurred vignette.

7. I added some final Lightroom adjustments.

Once again, the before vs the after:

I hope you enjoyed my edit!  I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on the end result.

One Photo Focus – September 2015

After-Before Friday is an event which allows photographers to share their processed images, and, if they choose, their post-processing steps. On the first Friday of the month, all participants have the opportunity to edit the same photo in the “One Photo Focus” challenge.  This is my second time participating.

This week the photo was submitted by Ben Rowe, from Aperture64.

I can’t remember my exact editing process, but this is the gist of it.

  1. I opened the image in Photoshop and duplicated the background image.  Then I applied a Gaussian blur filter to the copy.
  2. I selected the sky (Select > Colour range > Highlights), copied the selection into a new layer, converted it to a Smart Object, and added a Camera Raw filter to darken the sky.
  3. To create the water droplets, I opened a rainy texture, which I downloaded off the internet, into the Photoshop document. I changed the blend mode of the rain to Lighten, and decreased the opacity.

4. I created a new layer, and added a cloudy filter (Filter > Render > Clouds).

5. In order to create the streaks, I downloaded a streaky texture off the internet:

With the blacks selected, I created a layer mask on the layer with the cloud filter.  (Therefore rendering only the cloud in the selection visible.)

6. Then, I added a layer mask to the water droplets and painted black over the position of the castle.  I selected the black in the layer mask, and added a layer mask to the background copy layer.  I painted over a part of the cloud’s layer mask, removing some of the streaks in front of the castle.

7. Finally I opened the image in Lightroom, and performed basic adjustments on it, including reducing the saturation.

Once again, the before vs the after:

I hope you enjoyed my edit!  I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on the end result.

One Photo Focus – August

After weeks (months?) of admiring the images at Stacy Fischer’s After-Before Friday, I finally persuaded myself that I should join in.  For those of you who don’t know, After-Before Friday is an event which allows photographers to share their processed images, and, if they choose, their post-processing steps. On the first Friday of the month, all participants have the opportunity to edit the same photo in the “One Photo Focus” challenge.

This week the photo was submitted by Katie Prior, from Drawing with Light.

1. I opened up the image in Photoshop, and removed the people using the spot-heal tool.

Step 1

2. I replaced the sky using one of my own images which I took on a stormy day.

Step 2

3. In order to blend the rest of the image with the sky, I opened it up in Camera Raw, darkened the image, and increased clarity and contrast.  I also added a gradient, to selectively darken the mountains.

4. I then added a rainbow.  To do this, I created a new layer, and added a gradient (“Russell’s rainbow”, found under Presets > special effects). I used free transform (Ctrl+t) to move the gradient until I was happy with its position.

Screenshot (1588)

5. As I didn’t want the rainbow to cover the entire length of the image, I added a layer mask, and, with the Foreground Colour set to black, I painted out the unwanted areas.  To reduce the strength of the effect, I changed the layer’s blend mode to ‘screen’ and reduced the opacity of the layer.

6. Finally, I made some basic adjustments in Lightroom; decreasing the highlights and blacks, and increasing clarity and the whites.  I also added a selective adjustment to parts of the pier, and added a vignette to the edges.

Once again, the before vs the after:

I hope you enjoyed my edit!  I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on the end result.

Irene Dairy Farm Challenge

In mid-March, I took part in a “photo challenge” with Nextgen Photo Academy at Irene Dairy Farm.  I last went to the farm when I was too young to remember it, so I found it a very interesting and enjoyable experience.

We had fourteen different challenges to choose between – we could do as many or as few as we wanted to. Our photos were then reviewed a few nights later.

Get low:

Task: to change your perspective by ‘getting low’ and aiming upwards at your subject.

Environmental portraiture

Task: Capture an image of people in their environment.

While I’m not usually a fan of portrait photography, I couldn’t resist when I looked up from behind an old tractor and saw this…the finger up the nose was just an added bonus!

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Abstract:

Task: use elements such as line, shape, and texture to produce an abstract, arty image.

These are a couple of my favourite photos from the excursion – though I have been trying to take a photo of a spider-web for so long now, that the eventual result was a tad anti-climatic.

Shadows:

Task: Take an image where the shadow of an object is the main subject.

IMG_6891-1

Create mood:

Task: combine environmental elements and photography techniques to produce a moody image.

As I think almost all good photos have a moody element to them, I found I was easily inspired for this challenge.  In the end I used this gorgeous little guy as my model, a job which he seemed to take very seriously; he paraded around his pen crying plaintively and looking mournful the entire time I was there.

Wide angle animal portrait:

Task: effectively use the distortion provided by 10-20mm focal distances to capture an animal portrait.

IMG_7432-1-2

While I was there I also had my hand suckled on for nearly twenty minutes:

…and I did some exploring, which turned up a few interesting composures:

I would highly recommend the Irene Dairy Farm to animal-lovers, and photographers interested in animal portraiture, macro photography, environmental portraits, and even landscape photography.