Tag Archives: Photoshop

Happy Internet Halloween

Looks like Aragog’s relative (Harry Potter alert!)

Looks like Aragog’s relative (Harry Potter alert!)

Photoshop helped me get into the Halloween spirit with this pic, which I recently snapped in Chicago. When I downsized it for easy blog posting, I selected “save for web.”

How ironic! Hope all the spiders you really encounter are much smaller today on Halloween . . . and every day!

Nature’s Surprises

A fly enjoys some purply goodness.

A fly enjoys some purply goodness.

Sometimes it’s easy to see nature’s freeloaders while I’m snapping away at wildflowers.

Buggy!

Buggy!

As I get up close and personal with my Nikon 105mm macro lens, insects often come into focus along with the flora.

I didn’t notice the little antennas until I edited this photo on my iMac.

I didn’t notice the little antennas until I edited this photo on my iMac.

Other times the vagrant varmints show up as I work in Photoshop in the comfort of my home office. I wonder how I could’ve missed them while I was in the thick grass.

Not all of nature’s winks, though, are actually on flowers. Last Saturday as I was about to lean over to take a bluebonnet photo, something odd “hoppened” that was kinda “hare-owing” (somebody stop me!):

Bye, bye, bunny!

Bye, bye, bunny!

Quick as a bunny . . . because it was one . . . this critter near me shot out and scurried down the walking path. Got my heart to racing like Danica Patrick at Daytona.

Mental note: When it comes to nature photography, be careful of busy bees and rascally rabbits!

Social 4/4 Time

Billy pre-Photoshop: So yellow!

Billy pre-Photoshop: So yellow!

That little tremor in the world’s equilibrium yesterday was merely me leaving the 10-mile radius of my comfort zone . . . at night. For several hours.

Shocking, right? I cherish all the time I spend comfortably ensconced in my community’s little bubble. Usually everything I could ever need or want . . . including two Chipotles! . . . is right around the corner.

However, last night it was time for the Mister and I to pull on our social pants and mingle with the masses in Houston (where only 18th Street could magically become 20th Street). We met at the Corkscrew wine bar—the Mister zipped over from work, while I actually took on the mean streets and spine-tingling traffic of the big city with a few nerves left still intact.

Wonder where the yellow went?

Wonder where the yellow went?

Luring me to Houston was our disc golf pal Billy. He’s been featured in my blog before, famously wearing a blue dress, as well as wrongly advising me that chickens are harmless. Now that Billy has retired, he’s pursuing his dream of pop stardom. Too bad he’s too old for “American Idol”—this white-haired cat definitely can sing and strum!

Billy took to the Corkscrew’s horribly lit stage with his 12-string guitar and an eclectic song list that included tunes by the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, assorted artists I’ve never heard of, plus several that he wrote (the Mister and I liked those the best). We were joined at our table by the Mister’s brother Mike and his wife Paula. Several other disc golfers also attended.

Naturally, I toted my beloved Nikon D700 for documenting the event. The Nikon 85mm (f/1.4) was the perfect lens for the job: It lets in a lot of light, plus it gets me close to the action without being intrusive. I just wish that there had been a lot of light. Talk about your dim bulbs!

Billy gives it his all.

Billy gives it his all.

As you can see from the top photo, the white balance was totally wonky. I put mine on bulb after taking pics on every setting and seeing that it was the “best” and hoped that I could wash away the yellow in Photoshop. My ISO was 4000; Noise Ninja helped tame the grain, which really wasn’t too bad.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening filled with great singing, wonderful family and friends, and Diet Coke and delicious thin-crust pizza.

I might have to shake up the globe a little more often!

Too Much Photoshop

My #1 son’s oh-so-handsome senior yearbook photo (2009)

I love this photo of my older son! Even though he’s now a scruffy-bearded college junior, I use this pic as my iPhone’s screensaver. Those beautiful blue eyes are mesmerizing.

So I was looking forward to my younger son having his senior yearbook photo taken last month (he waited until the last minute so he could keep his scruffy beard as long as possible). I couldn’t wait to see my baby boy in his faux tux (the guys wear the dickey formal-wear shirt, bow tie, and jacket, while the gals are stuck with a shapeless drape). It definitely ratchets up the hunk factor.

Will the kid win any best-dressed awards?

As we waited for his turn in front of the camera, I snapped this pic of my younger son with my iPhone. He looked handsome, of course, but I knew the official print would be so much better.  Then the kid asked me if I thought they would touch up his acne for the yearbook photo. I told him they probably were pretty handy with Photoshop and hoped that they would. I know how sensitive all the seniors are about looking their best.

After almost four long weeks, his proofs finally arrived yesterday. What an exciting moment for me as I ripped open the envelope! Would his green-gray eyes be sparkling? Could we see the red highlights in his hair? Would I start imagining him in his prom tuxedo (if he should go)?

Most importantly, did the portrait studio work its magic and make his blemishes disappear?

Quite a change!

Even though the name on the photo was my son’s, he sure looked different.

Methinks the studio was a little heavy-handed with its Photoshop use. But at least his acne was gone!

Sidebar: After I posted the above pic on Facebook, one of my younger son’s friends recognized the beautiful young lady and contacted her. She didn’t have the same experience I had of seeing someone else in her envelope from the portrait studio; she hasn’t gotten her proofs yet. But now she knows where they are!

Color-Shifting High School Prom Memories

Sweet and innocent back in 1971

Even though my #1 son can’t be bothered with going to his high school prom tomorrow (that would involve effort, especially the talking-to-a-girl part), I can’t help but remember my own prom. Especially after I found some photos I had pasted in an album while looking for pix of my #1 son for his senior legacy project.

As you can see from the above photo of me with my high school and college beau, good, old Tim, the pictures have aged about as well as I have. Colors will shift over almost 40 years just like gravity plays havoc with our middle-aged bodies. Still, it brings back fond memories of already having a dress (I wore it when I was a bridesmaid for my oldest sister Fran’s wedding the previous year) and the misfortune of my too-straight hair refusing to hold a curl (I can’t remember if I went to a hair salon or just—ugh!—slept on curlers).

The original photo of us—handsome Tim and dorky-looking me

As much as I’m not really fond of this photo because I look like such a dork, I decided to try to fix the color shift in Photoshop.

The result of using curves in Photoshop

When I used the curves tool, it washed away some of the ugly yellow (should I have used Pepsodent?), but now we both look like well-dressed zombies And I look like a dorky well-dressed zombie!

Mostly black and white

I decided it was best to just go with black and white . . . with a dash of spot color. I’m hoping that instead of everyone noticing how dumb I look, their eyes will instead be drawn to the daisies!

I sure hope that in three years my #2 son will allow me to concentrate more on taking prom photos of him and his date than revisiting these old pix that undoubtably will look even worse.

The Non-Delightful Light Battle; Warning: Eyes May Glaze Over

arrwd-#5704-(cast-too-dark-&-too-light)

Back in May I wrote about my trials and tribulations with shooting our high school’s dance show in the school’s auditorium. Saturday night found me back in that same location trying to take decent photos of our high school’s play, “Laughing Stock.”

The #1 son and my “third” son Chase wanted to see the play (#1 was determined not to laugh during it), and I decided to tag along (because really what high school senior doesn’t want his mom hanging around with him?). I knew several of the actors, which meant I knew that their moms would like good photos that are impossible to take with a point and shoot.

arrwd-#5744-(white-shirt)

I tried my best to sit as far away from other people in the audience, because, well, my camera’s shutter is very loud. Especially in a quiet auditorium. Plus I knew I would need to chimp (e.g., check my LCD) periodically to make sure my settings were correct. Those lighted cell phone screens that are annoying in the dark? Well, my LCD monitor looks like a torch in comparison!

I remembered from taking pix of the dance show that the lighting is funky on stage. That’s where exposure compensation comes into play. Exposure compensation (the +/- button) lets you add or subtract light without changing your aperture; it allows you to adjust for the bright lights that are on stage, as well as backlighting outdoors.

Eyes glazing over? Sorry!

I was using my Nikon D700 (which does a wonderful job with high ISOs with Noise Ninja’s help, of course) and beloved Nikon f/1.4 85mm lens to let in as much light as possible (no flash photography necessary). My ISOs ran from 1000 to 2500 when it was pretty dark. At first I tried a mild exposure compensation of –.33 but quickly went to –.7 and –1 to try to darken the effect of the overwhelming overhead stage lights.

Too much light despite an exposure compensation of -1.33.

Too much light despite an exposure compensation of –1.33.

An exposure compensation of –1.33 worked pretty well, but as you can see above, sometimes the photo still was blown out. In this case I quickly chimped and reset the e-c to –1.67.

Alec at -1.67

Alec at –1.67

Wow, what a difference!

The cast works on a scene from "Charley's Aunt."

The cast works on a scene from "Charley's Aunt."

Once I finally got the e-c set to either –1.33 or –1.67, the photos looked pretty good, and I could just snap away.

Christin is somewhere within the smoke.

Christin is somewhere within the smoke.

The negative exposure compensation even worked well when there was smoke on stage.

Trey "kills" Dracul (Cameron) in a coffin as Jonathan (left) and Alec watch.

Trey "kills" Dracul (Cameron) in a coffin as Jonathan (left) and Alec watch.

Photoshop did play a role in getting the best quality out of these photos. Sometimes I had to add more light, while other times I had to darken a little using Levels. Photoshop wins the award for best supporting actor!

Brian is silhouetted by the actors taking their "Hamlet" bows behind him.

Brian is silhouetted by the actors taking their "Hamlet" bows behind him.

“Laughing Stock” is a comedic play about actors who rehearse/perform three summer stock plays (“Dracul,” “Charley’s Aunt,” and “Hamlet”) in a barn in New Hampshire. During the play, the cast performed “Hamlet” in the background behind a mesh screen. It made for interesting photos!

Christin, Cameron, and Grace take their bows at the end of the play.

Christin, Cameron, and Grace take their bows at the end of the play.

All of the actors were extremely talented and put on a very funny performance.

The cast applauds the audience.

The cast applauds the audience.

I’m sure I would’ve really enjoyed the play . . . if I hadn’t been busy compensating for my photographic exposure!

Photo Friday: Watch Out for that A/C!

Fogged out

Fogged in

See the photo above? That was my first shot of last Friday’s high school football game. And, yes, it is really foggy. Do not adjust your monitors!

The photo is foggy, but the playing conditions weren’t. That’s because I wasn’t thinking straight when I stowed my Nikon D300 and Nikon 70-200mm lens in my Honda Pilot for the trip to the stadium.

Sidebar: “Wasn’t thinking straight” is a nice way of saying that I was stupid.

The fog is starting to lift.

The fog is starting to lift.

When I put my camera and long lens in the car, I try to secure them in the back under my car seat so they don’t get jostled. But what I didn’t realize was that the back air conditioning duct is right where my camera equipment was. When I got out of the car at the stadium and reached for my camera, my first thought was, “This is freezing!” My second? “Oh, oh!”

Tackling in the lens fog

Tackling in the lens fog

I knew that when I took the cold lens out into the warm, humid air that I would have a fogged-up lens. I had my cleaning cloth ready, but it took what seemed like hours (but was more like 10 minutes) to have a clear-enough lens to shoot through. Foggy photos at high ISOs (I was at 1600) make for some of the most butt-ugly pics ever. Not a proud moment for me as a bogus pro, that’s for sure.

Post-processed first photo

Post-processed first photo

This is kind of what that first photo should’ve looked like; it was the best I could clean it up in Photoshop. I believe the proper response to it is one word: Ugh!

Eric (left) and Zach wait for the kickoff.

Eric (left) and Zach wait for the kickoff.

I finally was able to shoot the rest of the game once my lens warmed up enough to stop fogging. But I must admit it was nerve-wracking for awhile. I vowed that I would never put my camera and lens by that back air conditioning duct again (and don’t you do it, either!).

And I didn’t for almost a week . . . until I was going to the #2 son’s cross-country meet. Yep, old habits take a long time to die, apparently. Well, at least more than a week! Fortunately, I remembered midway to the park and was able to move the camera before it froze over. Once I got there, I made sure to turn off the air conditioning in the back.

Sometimes this middle-aged mind of mine gets a little too fogged up . . . like those football photos! Wish it was easy to clear up in Photoshop, too!!